Tag Archives: nieuws

‘New Mutants’ Co-Creator Blasts Film for Misspelling His Name and ‘Whitewashing’ a Character.

Date: 8/28/20 –

Written by: Phillip Martinez –

New Mutants - Courtesy of 20th Century Studios.
New Mutants – Courtesy of 20th Century Studios.

New Mutants is finally out in theaters after years of development limbo and re-shoots. But while many comic book fans may be excited to see Magik, Wolfsbane and the film’s other mutants on the big screen, their co-creator isn’t so happy with the adaptation.

Bob McLeod, the artist and inker who co-created the characters alongside writer Chris Claremont for Marvel Comics in the 1980s, went on social media on Friday to voice his displeasure over the changes that the studio and director Josh Boone made to the source material.

In a lengthy Facebook post, and in several tweets, McLeod explained his issues, which include stylings of the characters, a misspelling of his own name and even an accusation of whitewashing.

“I was very excited when I heard they were making a New Mutants movie. I thought making it into a horror movie was perhaps an interesting idea, but not at all how the characters should be introduced to the public at large. But, hey, my characters in a movie!” McLeod wrote on Facebook. “I never would have thought that would actually happen. But then, I was disappointed when they didn’t give Dani braids, although I like [actress] Blu Hunt. I was disappointed when Rahne wasn’t a redhead with spiky hair, although I adore [actress] Maisie Williams. I was disappointed that Sam isn’t tall and gawky, although I do like [actor] Charlie Heaton.

The biggest problem with casting and styling, though, involves the Afro-Brazilian character of Roberto da Costa, a.k.a. Sunspot. In the film, he’s played by a light-skinned Brazilian actor, Henry Zaga. “Mainly I was very disappointed that Roberto isn’t short and dark-skinned. Yet another example of Hollywood white-washing. There’s just no excuse,” McLeod wrote. “So basically, [director] Josh Boone erased everything I contributed to the way the characters look.”

Perhaps most insulting of all to McLeod is the fact that, even though this movie has been stalled and sitting on the shelf for a very long time (filming took place way back in 2017), his name is misspelled in the movie’s credits. He wrote on Facebook: “And now, the movie has come out at last, and apparently they’ve credited someone named Bob Macleod as co-creator. They couldn’t even be bothered to check the spelling of my name sometime in the last three years. And that can’t be fixed. That will be on the movie forever. I think I’m done with this movie.”

Newsweek reached out to 20th Century Studios regarding the mistake, but did not receive comment in time for publication.

Date: 8/28/20 –

Written by: Phillip Martinez –

Source: https://www.newsweek.com

Samsung Rolls Out Filmmaker Mode for The 2020 QLED LCD TVs

Date: 13 Jul 2020 –

Written by: Rasmus Larsen –

Samsung has started rolling out Filmmaker Mode via a firmware update for its 2020 QLED LCD TVs. It is available now in the US but still pending in Europe. Update: Now also available in Europe.

FILMMAKER MODE FOR SAMSUNG TVS:

Filmmaker Mode was announced in August 2019 by the UHD Alliance. It is a new picture mode for TVs that aims to preserve creative intent by disabling things like motion smoothing and respecting the frame rate, colors, more. The initiative is backed by directors such as Christopher Nolan, Ryan Coogler, Martin Scorsese, and James Cameron.

Filmmaker Mode is available as a new picture mode from the picture menu on Samsung 2020 QLED LCD TVs after installing firmware update 1301.5. The update is compatible with Samsung Q950T, Q900T, Q850T, Q800T, Q90T, Q80T, Q70T, and LS03T (The Frame), according to the release notes.

Samsung rolls out Filmmaker Mode for 2020 QLED LCD TVs.
Samsung Rolls Out Filmmaker Mode For 2020 QLED LCD TVs.

FlatpanelsHD has yet to try Filmmaker Mode on Samsung TVs but we have examined it on LG CX and Panasonic HZ1000 where it is largely identical to the already available Cinema Professional picture modes in the two TVs, respectively. Vizio and Philips are also launch partners but have yet to enable it.

Samsung notes that Filmmaker Mode can be enabled manually or automatically if it detects the corresponding flag in the content. This flag has not yet been implemented on discs or streaming services so at this time Filmmaker Mode remains a manual option. It works with both SDR and HDR content.

The update is rolling out now in the US but still pending in Europe. Update: now also available in Europe as firmware ver. 1304. If you are not seeing it via the TV’s built-in update function you can go to Samsung’s support page here to download it manually onto a USB thumb drive. USA: Firmware version 1301.5 can be downloaded from Samsung support.

Date: 13 Jul 2020 – Written by: Rasmus Larsen – Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

Sony’s First 48″ OLED TV Will Cost €1900 / £1800.

Date: 24 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Sony’s first 48-inch OLED TV will be available in Europe starting from August for €1900 and £1800. It is a new high-end A9 model.

48″ HIGH-END TV FROM SONY:
Over the last decade, we have seen TV makers push their best picture quality and most advanced features up into larger screen sizes. First 46 inches, then 55 inches, and now even 65 inches for some TV brands.

That changes in 2020 with the launch of the first 48-inch OLED TVs. The smaller panel is, besides higher pixel density, identical to the larger 55 to 77 inch panels, so you will get the same great picture quality. This includes 4K resolution, 100Hz, pixel-level luminance and color control for HDR as well as accurate colors in up to DCI-P3.

LG was the first manufacturer to launch a 48 inch OLED model and starting next month, August, Sony will also offer a 48 inch OLED TV in Europe, with availability in other regions including North America to follow later. It is a new high-end A9 model with Android TV, Acoustic Surface sound, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, AirPlay 2, and more.

Sony’s first 48-inch OLED TV will be available in Europe.

Sony UK and Sony Germany have today announced that the 48-inch model will cost £1800 and €1900 at launch. It will start shipping in Europe in late August. This puts it approximately 200 to 300 Euro or pounds higher than LG’s 48 inch model, which unlike Sony’s model features HDMI 2.1 ports and features.

Sony has confirmed only a 48-inch A9 model for 2020 but it may have more to share in early September during IFA. We expect to see 48 inch OLED TVs from other TV makers announced at the same time.

At launch, a 48 inch OLED TV will be significantly more expensive than a 46 to 50 inch LCD TV but in terms of picture quality it is night and day.

Date: 24 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Peacock Launches Without 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos

Date: 15 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


NBCUniversal’s Peacock launches today in the US, with free and premium tiers. The new streaming service will not offer 4K HDR or Dolby Atmos at launch. It will not be on Roku or FireTV either.

PEACOCK UNFOLDS ITS FEATHERS:
Peacock will have a free, ad-supported tier with limited access to 13,000 hours of content, a $5/month tier with 20,000 hours of content and ads, and a $10/month tier with full, ad-free access. That is the good news.

The bad news is that, like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, Peacock is not offering 4K HDR video or Dolby Atmos audio at launch. Movies and TV series are available in up to HD resolution. There is no word on when to expect it either. Up to 3 simultaneous streams are allowed.

It is not because NBCUniversal lacks movies in 4K HDR. Universal Studios is one of the most prolific studios when it comes to releasing UHD Blu-ray discs and 4K HDR movies through video-on-demand services such as iTunes and Vudu.

Peacock Launches Without 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos.

Peacock will roll out today on Apple TV including the Apple TV app, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, Vizio SmartCast TVs version 2.0 or later, and LG webOS TVs version 3.5 or later. It effectively means that many owners of recent Vizio and LG TVs will not be able to download the app.

Again like HBO Max, Peacock will not be available on Roku and Amazon FireTV at launch. These TV platforms are, according to most estimates, the biggest two in the US. Negotiations have reported stalled over terms for revenue sharing from ads.

With Peacock, you will have access to new originals from NBCUniversal as well as popular catalog titles from Universal, Focus Features, DreamWorks, and Illumination such as Jurassic Park, E.T., Meet the Parents, Shrek, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and a Half Men, and Frasier. Coming soon are titles like Trolls World Tour, The Office, and new original TV shows.

NBCUniversal is the latest to enter the streaming wars after Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, and Quibi. Peacock will launch in the US today and later internationally. You can check it out on peacocktv.com.

Date: 15 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

Marantz Unveils its First Receivers with HDMI 2.1

Date: 14 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Marantz has unveiled its first line of 8K ready receivers with HDMI 2.1 for 4K 120 fps and 8K 60 fps passthrough. However, only a single input port is HDMI 2.1 compatible.

MARANTZ HDMI 2.1 RECEIVERS:
Marantz new SR series of AV receivers SR5015, SR6015, SR7015, and SR8015 are its first 8K ready models, or more specifically its first with an HDMI 2.1 port.

HDMI 2.1 enables the receiver to pass through 4K 120fps and 8K 60fps signals from a next-generation game console or video player. The company added that the receivers also support pass-through for optional HDMI 2.1 features such as Dynamic HDR, QMS Quick Media Switching, VRR Variable Refresh Rate, ALLM Auto Low Latency Mode and QFT Quick Frame Transport.

Like Denon’s first HDMI 2.1 receivers, the new Marantz receivers are equipped only with a single HDMI 2.1 input 40 Gbps. Additional HDMI 2.1 players or consoles should be connected directly to the TV that can feed lossless audio back to the receiver via HDMI eARC.

Marantz new SR series of AV receivers SR5015, SR6015, SR7015, and SR8015.

The new 2020 SR-Series AV receivers represent the next major step forward in home theater, not just for Marantz, but the entire home entertainment industry, said Jake Mendel, global brand manager, Marantz. Marantz fans will be some of the first to experience new levels of incredibly sharp image quality, remarkably fast gaming and immersive surround sound. But more importantly, superior Marantz HDAM-SA3 amplification based on decades of extensive tuning transports the listener ever closer to their music.

TVs with HDMI 2.1 are already available in the market and the first players and consoles are expected to launch later this year. With HDMI 2.1 capable receivers starting to emerge the pieces for next generation of video and audio are starting to fall into place.

The receivers support Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D, and IMAX Enhanced along with many other features that are listed in the table below. Marantz’s new receivers will be available in the US and Europe starting from August to September.

Date: 14 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

LG Releases FreeSync Premium Update for its CX, GX OLED TVs

Date: 13 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


LG has released the promised firmware update to add support for FreeSync Premium (with HDR) on its 2020 CX and GX OLED TVs. The same update enables ATSC 3.0.

FREESYNC PREMIUM WITH HDR:

LG has released firmware version 03.10.20 in the US and Europe. The new firmware includes support for AMD FreeSync Premium, which LG had promised to add to select 2020 OLED TVs as reported first by FlatpanelsHD at CES 2020.

While PC monitors require the FreeSync Premium Pro tier to support HDR together with FreeSync, TVs only need to support the FreeSync Premium tier for HDR. AMD and owners confirm that HDR is working correctly together with FreeSync on LG’s CX and GX OLED TVs.

LG 2020 TVs already offered support for HDMI VRR and Nvidia’s G-Sync Compatible. With AMD FreeSync the TVs now support three VRR flavors – the widest support found in any TV. Samsung has been offering FreeSync in its TVs for a few years now but only recently added HDMI VRR. Sony just launched its first TV with HDMI VRR although it will require a future firmware update.

VRR provides smoother gameplay with a compatible PC or game console such as Xbox One S/X. VRR also reduces input lag and tearing.

AMD FreeSync Premium in LG 2020 TVs

The supported frequency range for AMD FreeSync Premium in LG 2020 TVs is 40-120Hz. Below that range, LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) kicks in. LG’s 2020 TVs support up to 4K at 120fps with maximum 4:2:0 and 8-bit over HDMI 2.0. Exact VRR support over HDMI 2.1 remains unclear as there are no HDMI 2.1 players/consoles available. LG has only said that 40-120Hz will be supported for 4K over HDMI 2.1.

LG’s 4K BX OLED and 8K ZX OLED TVs ranges will also gain support for FreeSync. Firmware updates for these sets are still pending.

A couple of caveats here. Users are reporting that if you enable FreeSync detection on a specific HDMI port, this HDMI port will no longer accept Dolby Vision signals; even if FreeSync is not engaged. It has also been reported that LG’s FreeSync implementation suffers from the same black level fluctuations as its HDMI VRR implementation.

Firmware version 3.10.20 also includes Apple AirPlay improvements, Sport Alert improvements, and support for ATSC 3.0 WX/GX only, meaning the new nextgen TV standard in the US. The firmware is available now in the US and Europe.

Date: 13 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

Sony Launches X900H (XH90), Its First 4K TVs With HDMI 2.1

Date: 03 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Sony X900H in the US and XH90 in Europe is now available in 55 to 85-inch sizes. It is Sony’s first 4K TVs with HDMI 2.1 ports and VRR, although it will require a firmware update.

THE PLAYSTATION 5 TV?
In 2011, Sony launched the PlayStation 3D monitor for PlayStation 3. Fast-forward to 2020 and the company has announced PlayStation 5. For users who want to pair up PS5 with a Sony TV, X900H (XH90) could prove to be the PlayStation 5 TV.

X900H (XH90) is Sony’s first 4K model with HDMI 2.1 ports, and its first TVs with VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) period. Previously, Sony offered HDMI 2.1 ports only in 8K TVs.

Why is that important? Well, the company has confirmed that PlayStation 5 will support gaming in up to 4K120 as well as VRR for much smoother gameplay with lower lag. This will require an HDMI 2.1 connection between PS5 and the TV.

Sony is not the first manufacturer to offer HDMI 2.1 ports in its 4K TVs. LG has been offering it since 2019 in its high-end LCD and OLED TVs. Samsung recently launched its first 4K TVs with HDMI 2.1 as part of its 2020 line-up. Sony is specifying a 48-120Hz frequency range for VRR in X900H, which is in line with Samsung’s implementation but less than LG’s 40-120Hz VRR in its OLED TVs.

Sony X900H 4K TV with HDMI 2.1.

HDMI 2.1 REQUIRES FIRMWARE UPDATE:
Besides HDMI 2.1, X900H features a full array local dimming (FALD) system behind the LCD panel, HDR support, Android TV, Dolby Atmos, AirPlay 2, and HomeKit. It is also equipped with the company’s new Acoustic Multi-Audio speaker system from 65″ and up.

We will not know how well Sony X900H performs as next-generation gaming TV before we get a chance to hook it up to PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, and we are not even sure that the firmware update required to enable HDMI 2.1 input and VRR will make it in time, but we sure hope so.

The company has yet to announce 4K OLED TVs with HDMI 2.1 but we suspect that it has more planned for the second half of 2020.

Sony XH900 in the US and XH90 in Europe is available now in 55 to 85 inches.

Date: 03 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

tvOS 14 Enables YouTube 4K – iOS 14 Enables YouTube 4K HDR Via VP9.

Date: 25 Jun 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Apple confirms that tvOS 14 will enable YouTube in 4K on Apple TV 4K. YouTube in 4K HDR is also enabled in iOS 14 on some iOS devices, via Google’s VP9 codec that Apple has resisted for years.

YOUTUBE 4K 60FPS IN HDR ON APPLE DEVICES:
Three years after the launch of Apple TV 4K, the box will finally stream YouTube in 4K resolution starting this fall with the release of tvOS 14. Although not highlighted on stage at WWDC20, the company confirmed the news on its website.

Watch the latest YouTube videos in their full 4K glory. Your favorite music, slo‑mo, outdoor, and vlog footage never looked better,” announced Apple.

Another surprising twist is that iOS 14 also enables YouTube in 4K, 60 fps, and HDR on recent iPhone and iPad devices, according to users on reddit and social media. The twist is that iOS 14 is delivering YouTube’s 4K HDR via Google’s VP9 video codec that Apple has resisted for years.

YOUTUBE 4K 60 FPS in HDR ON IPHONE WITH IOS 14 BETA. PHOTO: REDDIT USER SQUID04


APPLE CAVES IN:
It is a strange turn of events and ultimately Apple has caved in. To be clear, Apple could have enabled Google’s VP9 on iOS / tvOS and macOS several years ago.

That is why the news of YouTube 4K support led to speculation that Apple had instead started its transition to the newer AV1 codec, developed by the Alliance for Open Media of which both Apple and Google are founding members. But that does not seem to be the case – at least not yet.

A quick summary: There are, roughly speaking, two ways to bring 4K streaming to your devices. Via the industry standard HEVC format or via Google’s royalty-free VP9 format. Google has resisted using HEVC on YouTube, causing pains for some partners and users.

Apple had resisted using VP9 in any form on any device, affecting video quality on YouTube. The third option is to use the next-generation AV1 format that Apple, Google and many others are backing. YouTube has already started transitioning to AV1 for 4K streaming as well as 8K streaming to 8K TVs.

VP9 was already supported on Android, recent Smart TVs, and in some PC browsers.

There are a couple of questions that remain unanswered. While some iPhone/iPad devices with iOS 14 support 4K HDR via VP9-2 (VP9 profile 2), it is not yet clear if Apple TV 4K will too. As you can see from its statement above, Apple mentions 4K for YouTube but makes no mention of HDR for YouTube on Apple TV 4K.

The functionality is not yet enabled in the tvOS 14 beta either so we cannot check. Perhaps it will show up in a later tvOS 14 beta or perhaps it will require an update for the YouTube App.

Date: 25 Jun 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: reddit, twitter
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

LG Installs its First LED Cinema Screen.

Date: 16 Jun 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Following in the footsteps of Samsung, LG is getting into the cinema market. Not with projectors, but rather gigantic modular LED screens.

LED CINEMA SCREENS:
Samsung installed the “world’s first” LED Cinema Screen in July 2017 and Sony has been exploring the concept for years. LG has now installed its first LED cinema screen. It was installed in Taiwan in partnership with Taiwan’s Showtime Cinemas and Dolby. The installation includes a full Dolby Atmos system.

LG LED Cinema Screen.

By replacing the conventional projector with huge, modular LED screens, LG says that the projector room can be repurposed as seating space. The company claims that its LED cinema screens have 100,000 hours of lifetime (LED brightness half-time).



“We are excited about our collaboration with LG Electronics to bring our combined expertise to movie goers in Taiwan,” said Jed Harmsen, CPof Cinema & Content Solutions at Dolby Labs. “With the lifelike images created by LG’s LED Cinema Display and the immersive audio delivered by Dolby Atmos, moviegoers will be able to enjoy an elevated and thoroughly captivating cinematic experience.”

LED cinema screens can get much brighter than projectors and have far superior contrast to let cinemagoers experience HDR for the first time in cinema. Like OLED, LEDs are self-emitting meaning that each pixel emits its own light for pixel-level luminance and color control. The price of the system was not disclosed.

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Date: 16 Jun 2020

Panasonic HZ980 OLED TVs Join 2020 Line-Up.

Date: 15 Jun 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Panasonic has taken the wraps of yet another range of 4K OLED TVs that will be part of its 2020 line-up for Europe. HZ980 features HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and Atmos.

FOUR OLED TV RANGES:
In addition to the flagship HZ2000 and the more affordable HZ1500 and HZ1000 ranges, Panasonic will this year offer HZ980 OLED TVs in 55 and 65 inches. HZ980 will be Panasonic’s most affordable OLED TVs in 2020 but the TVs still come with 4K resolution, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HDMI eARC, and Dolby Atmos support. New features for 2020 such as Filmmaker Mode and Dolby Vision IQ are also included.

Panasonic HZ980 4K OLED TV 2020 Line-Up for Europe.

In the other hand you are not getting the swivel stand of HZ1000 and the ‘Smooth Motion Drive Pro’ system gets a downgrade to non-Pro. Further specifications are available by following the link below.

Like LG and Philips, Panasonic now has a wide line-up of OLED TVs. Sony, Toshiba, Grundig, Bang & Olufsen and other brands are also selling OLED TVs in Europe. Panasonic HZ980 will be available in Europe from July starting at €1800 / £1700 for a 55-inch model.

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Date: 15 Jun 2020

Denon Announces First HDMI 2.1 AV Receivers for 8K60, 4K120 pass-through.

Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Date: 05 Jun 2020

Denon has announced its new range of 8K ready receivers, which are the first to support HDMI 2.1 for pass-through of 8K60 and 4K120 signals from next-generation consoles and players.

HDMI 2.1 RECEIVERS:
We do not usually cover receivers but in the transition to HDMI 2.1 in 8K and 4K TVs there are some important factors to take into account. With HDMI 2.1 players and TVs you must either take advantage of the TV’s eARC port or buy a HDMI 2.1-capable receiver, if you want the best video and audio. Earlier this year, Yamaha’s plans to launch new receivers with HDMI 2.1 leaked. However, Denon is the first company to officially announce “8K ready” HDMI 2.1 receivers. Denon’s AVR-X6700H ($2,499), AVR-X4700H ($1,699), AVR-X3700H ($1,199) and AVR-X2700H ($849) will be available from later this month.

Denon 2020 AVR-X6700H AV Receiver

Besides HDMI 2.1 ports for 8K60 and 4K120 pass-through from example from PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X you are getting support for optional HDMI 2.1 features such as VRR, QMS, and ALLM. However, it is worth noting that only a single HDMI input is HDMI 2.1.

“It also supports the latest video technologies such as 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz pass-through, Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, Dynamic HDR, HLG,” said Denon.

The receivers support Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro 3D along with a bunch of other features. We refer to the specifications table below. More details can also be found on denon.com. TVs with HDMI 2.1 are already available in the market and the first players/consoles are expected to launch later this year. With HDMI 2.1-capable receivers starting to emerge we are not starting to see a more solid foundation forum under the next generation of video/audio experiences.

DENON 2020 AVR-X6700H – SPECIFICATIONS:

PREMIUM-PERFORMANCE DISCRETE 11-CHANNEL AMPLIFIER IN A MONOLITHIC DESIGN:
Delivers a precise and powerful 140W per channel 8 ohms, 20Hz-20kHz, THD: 0.05%, 2 ch. drive, to provide trusted, precise and powerful Denon sound.

Full 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz support and upscaling:
With the latest technology in HDMI support, you can enjoy 8K quality video from your 8K source devices with the highest quality available, with 1 supported 8K input and 2 outputs allowing for 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz pass-through. 8K upscaling is available on all 8 HDMI inputs.

THE LATEST IN HDMI SUPPORT:
With 8 advanced HDMI inputs with full HDCP 2.3 support and 3 HDMI outputs connect to all your favorite media devices and output up to 3 monitor displays so you can enjoy from any room.

Enjoy your favorite immersive 3D audio: Enjoy immersive, 3D audio from sources like Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X™, DTS:X Pro and Auro-3D.

DTS:X PRO SUPPORT:
With the latest in DTS technology, enjoy DTS:X Pro that can process up to 13 channels via future firmware update.

IMAX ENHANCED TECHNOLOGY:
Delivers a true IMAX theater experience at home. Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) HDMI support: Through the main HDMI output, connect your TV with eARC HDMI support to allow uncompressed and object-based audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X directly from your smart TV app to your AV receiver.

The latest in video compatibility:
The latest HDR format support including HDR10, HDR10+ (New in 2020), HLG, Dolby Vision, as well as Dynamic HDR (New in 2020), to provide the greatest picture quality for brightness, clarity and contrast.

The next generation in movie immersion: With 8K/60Hz pass-through and upscaling, Dynamic HDR and Quick Media Switching (QMS), enjoy crystal clear and smoothest picture in the highest quality available.

THE LATEST IN GAMING EXPERIENCES:
With 8K/60Hz pass-through and upscaling, Dynamic HDR and Quick Media Switching (QMS), enjoy crystal clear and smoothest picture in the highest quality availableWith 4K/120Hz pass-through, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Quick Frame Transport (QFT), enjoy your gaming experience with amazing imaging, as well as reduced lag and latency.

NEW DSP FOR MORE PROCESSING POWER:
With 13.2 ch. max audio processing, connect external power amplifier to the AVR-X6700H to power two additional channels to enjoy a 13.2 ch. home theater setup.

Works with your favorite voice assistants: Use your voice to control the AVR-X6700H and wireless music services hands-free, works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri and Josh.ai.

WIRELESS STREAMING FROM THE MOST POPULAR MUSIC SERVICES:
Enjoy all your favorite music services like Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music HD, TIDAL, SiriusXM, Deezer and more to have limitless music listening enjoyment. The AVR-X6700H also lets you enjoy your music via AirPlay 2, letting you stream your favorite tracks from Apple Music.

ROON TESTED CERTIFIED:
Get more out of your digital music library with searchable, surfable information about your favorite artists and songs. Find lyrics, concert dates, photos, bios, reviews and more.

FRONT WIDE SPEAKERS SUPPORTED FOR DOLBY ATMOS AND DTS:X PRO UP TO 13 CHANNEL SETUPS:
Supports front wide speakers for a more seamless front surround stage reproduction either in 9.1.2 or 9.1.4 speaker setup.

PHONO INPUT:
With its included phono input, the AVR-X6700H lets you connect your turntable and play vinyl records. Enjoy your collection with exceptional quality and sound.

DUAL SUBWOOFER OUTPUTS:
Smooths out low frequencies for better bass dispersion.

HEOS BUILT-IN WIRELESS MULTI-ROOM MUSIC STREAMING TECHNOLOGY:
Listen from any room for a connected, whole-home audio experience. The AVR-X6700H also works with the newly introduced Denon Home speakers to let you enjoy a whole-home audio experience. High-resolution audio streaming for Hi-Fi enthusiasts: Enjoy your favorite Hi-Res quality file playback with FLAC, ALAC, and WAV support, as well as DSD 2.8/5.6MHz.

ALL ZONE TV AUDIO:
Play the audio from your TV to another zone for your favorite shows without losing fully discrete surround sound in the main zone.

BUILT-IN BLUETOOTH AND WI-FI WITH 2.4 GHZ / 5 GHZ DUAL BAND SUPPORT:
Solid wireless network connectivity even in congested environments.

BLUETOOTH AUDIO TRANSMITTER:
Enjoy your favorite audio through your Bluetooth headphones late at night or with your family member who is hearing impaired. This feature supports Bluetooth-only playback as well as simultaneous playback with connected speakers.

Award-winning Denon guided setup assistant and graphical user interface:

Easy and intuitive out-of-box and setup experience.

Smart TV connectivity:
Control the Denon AVR-X6700H with your TV remote via HDMI CEC.

AUDYSSEY MULTEQ XT32, DYNAMIC VOLUME, DYNAMIC EQ, LFC AND SUB EQ HT:
Delivers the ultimate equalization for your individual room including subwoofer EQ.

OVRC AND DOMOTZ PRO REMOTE SYSTEM MONITORING AND MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY AND RS232 CONTROL:
Lets custom integrators monitor and troubleshoot remotely, drastically reducing downtime.

CUSTOM INSTALL READY:
The Denon AVR-X6700H features external control and IP control capabilities for easy customization and compatibility with third-party integration solutions.

EQUIPPED WITH TWO 12V TRIGGER OUTPUTS: Connect up to two other devices such as a cooling fan or projector and operate on standby power.

AMAZING AUDIO BUILT ON 110 YEARS OF INNOVATION:

Denon is the defining audio company of Japan. Founded in 1910, we enable the moments that matter through the relentless pursuit of quality, innovation and audio performance.

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Date: 05 Jun 2020

First Dolby Vision Titles Appear in Google Play Movies.

Date: 19 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Joker and A Simple Favor are the first two movies available in Dolby Vision HDR through Google Play Movies. The company is also planning to add support for HDR10+.

DOLBY VISION AND GOOGLE:

Earlier this year, Google announced that it would start offering movies in HDR10+ format later in 2020. The company made no mention of the other dynamic HDR format Dolby Vision so it is surprising to see Dolby Vision titles arrive first.

Joker and A Simple Favor are the first movies available in Dolby Vision through Google Play Movies. FlatpanelsHD first spotted them yesterday on the Nvidia Shield 2019 device. Joker is available in Dolby Vision in the US and Europe.

If you search for ‘Dolby’ in the app you also see ‘Top Dolby Vision movies’, which suggests that Google is in the process of rolling out support.

Joker is Available in Dolby Vision in Google Play Movies.

The company is rumored to be planning a new Android TV device in a stick form factor similar to Chromecast Ultra. Support for Dolby Vision (and Dolby Atmos?) could be announced officially at the same time.

Google Play Movies is not the first online storefront to offer movies in Dolby Vision. Apple TV (iTunes) and Vudu have been offering movies in the premium HDR format for some time, and Apple currently offers a total of 616 Dolby Vision titles so Google has some catching up to do.

A Simple Favor is Available in Dolby Vision in Google Play Movies.
Joker and A Simple Favor are Available in Dolby Vision in Google Play Movies.

Date: 19 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Panasonic 2020 LCD TVs Now Available.



Date: 02 Jun 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Panasonic has launched its 2020 HX models in Europe. The new LCD TVs in 40 to 75 inch sizes feature 4K resolution and the latest version of My Home Screen.

PANASONIC 2020 LCD TVS:

Panasonic’s new LCD TVs for 2020, unveiled in February, are now rolling out in Europe. The company will also launch new OLED TVs soon.

HX940, HX900 and HX800 are edge-lit LCD TV ranges with 4K resolution. The TVs are powered by the company’s HCX video processor (HCX Pro in HX940) and feature HDR support. However, due to the TVs’ edge-lit LCD panels you should step up to the OLED models if you seek the HDR picture experience.

The TVs are also capable of decoding and outputting Dolby Atmos to an external soundbar or receiver system. Apps such as Netflix are accessible via Panasonic’s My Home Screen platform that has reached version 5.0 in the 2020 models.

Panasonic HX900 and HX940 feature a switch stand that can be adjusted between wide and narrow position.

HX900 and HX940 feature a switch stand that can be adjusted between wide and narrow position. Panasonic says that the narrow configuration lets users buy a larger TV without having to also replace furniture at home.

Panasonic’s TVs will compete with mid-range LCD TVs from brands such LG and Samsung. Unlike its competitors, Panasonic has no LCD TVs with zone dimming capabilities this year.

Panasonic HX800, HX900 and HX940 are rolling out now in Europe.

Date: 02 Jun 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Netflix Has Started Reverting Streaming Quality Back to Normal.



Date: 13 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Many users in Europe are reporting that Netflix has reverted streaming quality back to normal with 4K HDR up to 15 Mb/s bitrate. The company says that it is working with ISPs to increase capacity.

NETFLIX STREAMING QUALITY:

In mid-March Netflix lowered its streaming quality in Europe in response to a request from the EU to help ease strain on the internet infrastructure in these times of nationwide lockdowns.

Netflix subscribers in Denmark, Norway, Germany and other European countries have contacted FlatpanelsHD or taken to forums to report that streaming quality has been restored, meaning 4K HDR streaming at up to 15 Mb/s bitrate. HD bitrates are also reverting back to normal.

However, the changes do not apply universally yet. On 2020 TVs that we are currently testing, Netflix’s 4K HDR streaming quality is still capped to maximum 7.62 Mb/s.

In a statement to FlatpanelsHD, Netflix says that it is working with internet service providers to increase capacity. Netflix said that it added four times the normal capacity in April. So depending on your device, ISP, and perhaps other factors, you may not be seeing Netflix’s normal streaming quality just yet. But the process has started. –

“Please note, we are working with ISPs to help increase capacity. In the last month alone we have added four times the normal capacity. As conditions improve we will lift these limitations,” Netflix said in a statement to FlatpanelsHD.

Date: 13 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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HBO MAX is Live – Without 4K HDR.

Date: 27 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen

WarnerMedia has today launched HBO Max, its new stand-alone streaming service that will compete with Netflix, Hulu and others. 4K HDR is not supported at launch but it is “part of the roadmap”.

HBO Max is Live:

HBO Max has arrived in the US. For $15 per month you get access to 10,000 hours of content, including Warner Bros and New Line movies, HBO series, and more. Movies include The Matrix, Gremlins, The Lord of the Rings, Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, and DC titles.

WarnerMedia is the latest player to enter the ‘streaming wars’ after Apple and Disney entered the arena in late 2019 and NBCUniversal soft-launched its new streaming service Peacock in mid-April, with a full launch in the US planned for mid-July 2020.

HBO Max is – or will soon be – available on Apple TV, Android TV, select Samsung TVs, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Chromecast, and AirPlay. For more details see the table below.

The service is launching in the US first, with international availability to follow at some point in the future.

HBO MAX IS LIVE WITHOUT 4K HDR

4K HDR is “part of the roadmap”

At launch, HBO Max delivers HD resolution and 5.1 surround sound. We have yet to gain access (update: we’re in!) but the existing HBO Now and HBO Go services have often been under fire for offering low-bitrate HD streaming. It is not clear if HBO Max will offer increased bitrate. With so many great movies and TV shows, many of which already mastered in 4K HDR, it is disappointing to see HBO Max launch without support for 4K resolution and HDR of any flavor. The company’s official statement on the matter is that 4K HDR is part of the product roadmap. It has not commented on its plans for Dolby Atmos.

“4K HDR is a part of the HBO Max product roadmap but we don’t have any additional information to share at this time,” said WarnerMedia. You can check out HBO Max on hbomax.com where you can sign in with your existing HBO account or create a new. It costs $15 per month after a free 7-day trial.

HBO Max – Supported TV Platforms:

Android TV:
Android TV (with Android OS 5 or later) This includes most Sony Android TVs (2016 models and later) as well as the AT&T Streaming TV box.

Apple TV:
Apple TV (4th gen or later) with the latest tvOS software. If you have an Apple TV (2nd or 3rd gen), see Other ways to stream on your TV.

Samsung TV 2016 Models and Later:
Download the HBOMax app on your Samsung TV and sign in. Or, if you need to sign up, see How do I sign up?

Not all Samsung TV models are supported. For a list of compatible TV models, go to HBO Max on Samsung TV and choose Compatible devices. If your TV model is not listed, see Other ways to stream on your TV.

PlayStation 4:
Xbox One:

Other Ways to Stream on your TV:

Chromecast:
Cast HBO Max from your phone or tablet to your TV.

Airplay:
Share HBO Max with your Apple TV (2nd or 3rd generation).

HDMI cable:
Connect your computer, phone, or tablet to your TV.https://www.youtube.com/embed/9yLNhhHs3-k?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparentHBO Max Launching onMay 27

Samsung Upgrades 2020 TVs With Unmatched Video App Offerings.

Written by: Editor
Date: 31 May 2020


Aiming to allow its products to feature what it calls the most competitive content app offerings, Samsung Electronics UK has announced that all TVs in the 2020 line-up now feature app offerings such as Netflix and NOW TV.

The new upgrade is now live across all models for 2020 which includes the Q950TS QLED 8K and also Samsung’s 2020 Full HD range. Samsung says that ‘unique’ to the company, its 2020 Smart TV owners will now have ‘unrivalled’ access to the best collection of app platforms available in the UK, ensuring endless entertainment options.

Users will have access to over 50 app offerings from streaming firms including the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, Rakuten TV and Disney+, in addition to local players BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, NOW TV and BT Sport.

“This is a proud moment for us at Samsung. Not only do our 2020 TVs guarantee access to the UK’s leading app platforms, an offer that is currently unique to Samsung, but we’re pleased to also be in a position to offer this upgrade across our full range. ,” said Guy Kinnell, Vice President, TV and AV, Samsung Electronics UK. “Traditionally, upgrades like this happen in phases for the various TV models, but new for 2020 is that this upgrade reaches every Smart TV in our range from the get go – meaning that the very best entertainment offerings are accessible for all.”

Written by: Editor
Date: 31 May 2020
Source: https://www.rapidtvnews.com

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LG Gallery And Wallpaper 2020 OLED TVs Now Available.

Date: 29 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen

LG is rolling out its new Gallery TV and a refreshed version of the Wallpaper model. The OLED TVs are available in 55 to 77 inches with HDMI 2.1, webOS, Apple features, and more.

GALLERY AND WALLPAPER OLED TVs:

LG has phased out its E series of picture-i
n-glass OLED TVs and introduced GX, a new line of TVs designed to hang flush on the wall. The company has also refreshed the design of its Wallpaper OLED TV WX.

The Gallery GX screen not as slim as the Wallpaper WX screen, which has a separate electronics speaker box that has been redesigned for the 2020 version. On the other hand all ports, speakers, and electronics are built-in. GX comes bundled with a slim wall bracket solution. An optional soundbar SNX7 for GX will also be available, said LG.

LG GALLERY GX OLED

With self-emitting OLED technology, LG is promising excellent picture quality including pixel-level control for HDR. GX and WX support three HDR formats (HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision). The TVs also feature 4K resolution, HDMI 2.1 ports, Filmmaker Mode, and the Alpha 9-3 video processor.

LG GALLERY GX OLED

Both new TV models feature HDMI 2.1 ports with support for up to 4K120 inputs from next-generation game consoles and video players. In addition, GX supports three variable refresh rate systems: HDMI VRR, AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync.

The company’s webOS platform offers access to streaming apps, including the Apple TV app and Disney+, but not HBO Max that launched earlier this week. New streaming services are increasingly prioritizing platforms like Apple’s tvOS over Smart TV platforms.

LG WALLPAPER WX OLED

Like Samsung with its Serif TV and ‘The Frame’, LG has aspired to create unique TVs that can set it apart from the competition. GX is a step up from CX, while WX is a unique TV that no other manufacturer can offer at this time. Later this year, the South Korean company will introduce the world’s first rollable TV (RX).

LG GX and WX are available now in the US and Europe, with broader availability expected next month. Further details about pricing and availability can be found in the table below.

Date: 29 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Nvidia Shield TV gets Prime Video update to fix ongoing 4K issues

Written by: Ben Schoon
Date: Apr. 22 2020

nvidia shield tv pro

The best Android TV set-top box for a while now has been Nvidia’s Shield TV. The box is typically great at displaying 4K HDR content, but lately, some users have been trouble with that. Specifically, Amazon Prime Video hasn’t been playing 4K on the Shield TV, but a fix is now rolling out.

Confirmed by Nvidia staff on the company’s forums, Amazon is rolling out an update to fix 4K issues. For a few weeks, users have been experiencing issues with 4K playback, especially on the 2019 Shield TV Pro. Content that would normally be 4K HDR — such as Amazon’s Originals — would instead be played in 1080p SDR.

While the exact cause of this isn’t clear, it does seem that Amazon has figured out a solution through an app update. It’s important to note that this is not a system update.

Rolling out over the past couple of days, an update to Prime Video is designed to fix the 4K issues Shield TV owners have been experiencing. Based on some users who have already updated the app on their TVs, it seems to do the trick. This update will be available to all users within the next 3 days.

Source: https://9to5google.com

HFR – The One UHD Technology You Rarely Hear About

Date: 08 Apr 2020
Written by: Yoeri Geutskens


If you’ve been keeping up with Ultra HD TV technology, you may recall that there are essentially six pillars to it:

1. UHD or Ultra HD Spatial Resolution 4K or 8K.
2. HDR or High Dynamic Range.
3. WCG or Wide Color Gamut.
4. Deep Color Resolution.
5. HFR or High Frame Rate.
6. NGA or Next-Generation Audio.


Most of these we’ve got by now. You can go to an electronics store and buy a 4K TV with HDR, WCG, 10-bit color and a Dolby Atmos sound bar or AVR, and they’re not even expensive anymore. The one piece that’s missing? HFR, or High Frame Rate. It’s probably the least understood in terms of benefits and how it works – by consumers but likely also by the creative industry. Even science is still lacking. It’s probably the most controversial of all UHD technologies. Many misconceptions abound, so here’s an attempt to shed some light on what we know and what we don’t know. Many misconceptions abound, so here’s an attempt to shed some light on what we know and what we don’t know.

HFR FOR MOVIES:
What do we mean by HFR? That depends what we are talking about. When it’s about film, anything above 24fps (frames per second) will be called HFR. It’s not very common. The number of high-profile movies with HFR you can count on one or two hands. First we had Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, shot in 3D at the double frame rate of 48fps. Since then, we’ve had director Ang Lee taking things further with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk shot at 120fps and Gemini Man starring Will Smith, both shot at 120fps and in 3D. Latter movie was screened in different ways: 2D theaters showed it in 24fps; 3D theaters showed it at 60 or 120fps, depending on their capabilities. And with good reason: Ang Lee pursued high frame rate in order to overcome issues inherent to projection of 3D images at 24fps – strobing and flicker, just like Peter Jackson did. James Cameron has a slightly different approach but prefers to use 120fps in certain parts of 3D movies to avoid judder in shots that pan or have lateral movement across the frame. But HFR for movies is a very divisive technique. Some people love it, a majority of people seem (I don’t have any hard numbers here) to hate it. 24fps is sacred.

DIRECTOR ANG LEE FILMING ‘GEMINI MAN’. PICTURE CREDIT: PARAMOUNT

But why? Well, part of the reason is that’s what we’re used to. This video does a good job explaining why we’ve got 24fps, and why we’ve kept it. But if more pixels and more colors and more bits per color and more audio channels are good, why would more frames per second be bad? Doesn’t it add more realism? Yes, it does, and that’s exactly why it’s bad for movies. Realism is not the point – quite the contrary. It’s very similar to the discussion around analog, chemical film grain: Some people dislike it, but like 24fps frame rate it’s something our brains have been conditioned for since almost 100 years. Although most of us will not consciously notice it, our brains register it subconsciously and know we’re watching a proper film, a possibly epic story. It helps with our suspension of disbelief and puts our brains into ‘movie watching mode’ and immerses us, pulls is into the story. Some refer to 24fps as a ‘dream-like cadence’. Heightened realism takes away from that. It breaks the magic spell. As one moviegoer succinctly put it: “I didn’t see Gandalf et al – instead I saw a load of actors dressed up in some odd costumes.” Billy Lynn and Gemini Man triggered many of the same type reactions, as you can see on social media. Some compare it to a home video shot on a GoPro or a smartphone, looking “hyper-real” or “like a videogame”; others refer to the “Soap Opera Effect” as it’s called (a bit of a misnomer), and the dreaded motion interpolation that their in-laws have enabled on their TV.

Ian Mckellen As Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. Picture Credit: Warner Brothers

Much however is unknown about how our brains process frame rates and motion perception. More scientific research into this area would probably be justified.

How come we (most of us at least) subconsciously perceive 24fps frame rate without being bothered by judder?

Are our brains really conditioned into seeing 24fps as ‘epic’ yet when we see 60i or 60p this mechanism shuts down and we go into ‘soap opera’ mode?

And yet for videogames, which nowadays are also a lot about storytelling, High Frame Rate has evident benefits that gamers appreciate apparently. So do people who play videogames at high frame rates (120fps and above) perceive movie frame rates differently?

Also, provided the Soap Opera Effect is real, there must be an Inverse Soap Opera Effect whereby TV content converted from 60fps to 24fps suddenly starts to look epic? What points to this is a common technique in sports news shows, where they cut the frame rate to 24, 25 or 30fps, crop the picture to get a wider aspect ratio (adding black bars at the top and bottom) and add dramatic music when they want to make a game summary look epic.

Does frame rate matter for traditional cel animation movies, and if so, how?

At what frame rate above 24fps does the magic stop working? 25? 30? 48? 60? Anecdotal evidence (the three Hobbit movies) suggests 48fps is already guaranteed to blow it, but where is the border?

Although soap operas are never in 3D, 3D does not seem to help with suspension of disbelief or make something more epic. Perhaps even contrary. Is this because 3D adds realism which, like HFR and absence of grain, breaks the spell rather than sustaining it?

Is this behavior learned? Would someone from another culture who’s never been to the cinema experience frame rates the same way?

So many questions, so few answers. With the advent of Filmmaker Mode and this insistence of accurately reproducing 24fps frame rate, it’s easy to forget that before Ultra HD Blu-ray, the original Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD were the first home media ever able to handle this frame rate. Broadcast TV, all consumer videotape formats, LaserDisc and even DVD used interlaced video. Yes, DVD was the first format to offer Progressive Scan, but not at 24fps. An important lesson from the history of Hollywood that’s perhaps easy to forget because most of it happened so long ago is that every major technology transition also led to new movie genres and significantly shifted the balance between existing movie genres. HFR is a powerful new tool for movie making in a larger toolbox, so exploration is required. The old ways will not work with HFR, simply because they are built on different assumptions about movie making. Maybe HFR will give rise to entirely new genres, maybe it will take computer animation to heights that we can’t yet imagine. Combined with computer animation HFR may give rise to CGI actors that are more convincing than live actors. We just don’t know yet. What we do know based on past experience though is that every time a major innovation presents itself this discussion flares up: “Who wants to hear actors talk”, “No one wants color film”, and so on. This line of thinking is usually a losing argument over time. It’s not a given that 24fps is going to last forever. So what’s going to happen next? These transitions take many years, sometimes even decades when you have a firmly established structure such as the Hollywood studio system with its worldwide cinema distribution system but innovation never stops, also in the film industry. New secondary tools for movie making are implemented into current workflows and embraced by the industry. Helicopters? Awesome, let’s do flyover shots. Drones? Cool. Large LED screens? Using giant LED screens showing rendered virtual environments instead of green chromakey walls, like they used for shooting The Mandalorian? Absolutely. Anyway, it’s too early to draw conclusions. We’ve had fewer than ten HFR movies, from only a handful of directors. All of these have been conceived as a way to do 3D better. Meanwhile 3D itself has taken decades for Hollywood to get it right, become mainstream and get accepted as more than a novelty feature. For now, the best advice is to go see HFR with your own eyes (and an open mind) to form your own opinion and not accept any dogmas as absolute truth.

CONVERGING TECHNOLOGIES:
It’s important to bear in mind that Hollywood movies are still made and optimized for cinema. The technical capabilities of cinema guide movie production and as such many of the ‘truths’ in Hollywood are based on this system. Things could change if suddenly home entertainment becomes a much bigger market for Hollywood, which was actually already happening in 2018 and 2019, and perhaps much more dramatically so in 2020. Movie production optimized for TVs would most likely look different from film production optimized for cinema. After all, what works well at the cinema doesn’t necessarily work well on a TV set. Research by Dolby Labs found that higher brightness makes judder more apparent, as does higher contrast. What looks good in SDR judders too much in HDR, so colorists end up grading HDR darker to avoid this, which defeats the whole purpose. The study also showed that at 50 nits – the typical brightness with traditional theatrical projection – 24fps is the ideal frame rate whereas at 1000 nits – achieved on now fairly common and not too expensive HDR TVs – 32fps would be preferred. Although television came several decades later than cinema, the two technologies have been on parallel paths, going through many of the same innovations. Film went from silent movies to sound, from black & white to color, from mono to stereo to digital surround sound Dolby Digital, DTS, SDDS, initially all on optical film with an ever-growing number of channels. These changes have been noticeable but followed an evolutionary approach. But more recently the cinema business has seen some innovations that are major technical changes but entirely behind the scenes and very subtle if at all noticeable to the viewer: from chemical film to digital projection, with movies distributed on HDDs in cartridges and soon possibly online. The next major step in cinema is probably going to be the most drastic one in a century: from projection on a silver screen to ‘direct view’ displays. Of course, no CRT, no plasma, no LCD, no OLED but real LEDs. These bring far greater brightness, contrast and dynamic range, and will bring cinema screens back on par with home cinema – where they are now essentially running behind on spatial resolution, dynamic range and brightness – only way bigger. It will also add the flexibility to use higher frame rates though whether this will be used is doubtful, given the above considerations and the generally conservative nature of the movie business. This switch will also bring new entrants to the market. Samsung, which has never been in the cinema projection business, has launched its ‘Onyx Cinema LED Technology’ – 34-feet (10-meter) diameter screens with true 4K 4096 x 2160 resolution. The first cinemas rolling this out since 2017 were Lotte Cinema World Tower in Seoul, Paragon Cineplex Theatre in Bangkok, Pacific Theatres Winnetka in Chatsworth, California, just north of Los Angeles, Pathé Beaugrenelle in Paris, Sambil Leganés in Madrid, and the Shoudu Cinema in Beijing.

Samsung’s Onyx Cinema Led Direct View Display.

This transition is going to take years. This stuff isn’t cheap, and the technology it’s replacing isn’t cheap either. It’s a capital investment. But cinema and TV technology are converging further than ever. In the future, a cinema screen will basically be a very large TV set – typically with a far superior Dolby Atmos system. Expect this transfer of TV technology to the cinema to feed back into the home. The first signs are already here. If you’ve got deep enough pockets, you can buy Samsung’s ‘The Wall’ micro-LED display. It’s a modular system, which means you can construct various screen sizes and resolutions. One module measures 16×18 inch and counts 360×360 pixels. An HDTV will use 18 modules, a 4K display 76 and an 8K one 288. There’s no limit, really. 16K displays are also possible. The only constraint is basically money. A single module will set you back about $10,000 so you can do the math.

Size Options for Samsung’s The Wall Micro-Led TVs.

The specs and sizes for Sony’s Canvas or Cledis Crystal LED Integrated Structure or Display System are very similar. This technology is of course aimed mainly at professional applications but Sony explicitly says it’s also available for living rooms. Now for this to become something for the mass market, we need a price reduction of about 99%. That sounds very steep, but we’ve witnessed exactly that in the 4K TV market over the past seven years. Great news: like the cinema product, the home product offers strong HDR (perfect blacks and 1000 nits peak brightness), wide viewing angles, great 3D, and 120fps HFR.

HFR FOR OTHER TV CONTENT:
So if it is only for scripted, acted content that low frame rate matters, are higher frame rates better where realism matters i.e. nature documentaries and live sports? Evidence suggests so. HFR adds to the sense of ‘being there’ in a good way. But before we go into that, back to the definition of HFR. Broadcast TV comes in a range of resolutions now. The trend is upward but very slow. A related trend is that slowly but surely we seem to be getting rid of interlaced video, where ‘fields’ (half frames with only the odd picture lines or the even ones) are displayed successively. Sure, at 1080 HD resolution there’s still a lot of 50i and 60i content but at Ultra HD resolutions only Progressive Scan with full frames is permitted. Various frame rates are allowed (including fractional ones), but 50p and 60p are not considered HFR – they’re Standard Frame Rate. When organizations like the Ultra HD Forum speak of High Frame Rate they mean at least double that – 100 or 120fps and beyond. What drives the (very slow) move to higher frame rates? Is it a silly numbers race, like some would argue the move to higher spatial resolution (4K, 8K) became? Not quite. Even if we don’t need or want it for movies, there are definite upsides. First, why are we moving to higher screen resolutions? Just because TV makers can, and they see TVs with higher resolutions having higher margins? No, there’s more behind it than technology push. Since many decades, TVs are getting bigger and bigger. It’s a pretty constant trend, and the average diameter grows by about 1 inch per year across all territories, even if these averages vary from region to region. In the meantime, our viewing distance does not change much. Living rooms (also varying in average size geographically) did not get significantly bigger. That’s why we need more pixels. Now with higher resolutions, the risk of motion blur increases. With 8K, this is particularly visible. 8K sports content, like the Olympic Games, you probably do not want to watch at frame rates lower than 100fps. Although Japanese public broadcaster NHK has announced quite some time ago they’ll shoot and transmit many parts of the Olympics in 8K, they have not yet said at what frame rate.

THE DIFFICULTIES WITH HFR:
While shooting, recording and transmitting HFR may be relatively straightforward (arguably more so than HDR), there is a complication: How to achieve backward compatibility with Standard Frame Rate TV sets and transmission systems? At the moment there are two approaches to this, and DVB and ATSC solve this in different ways. Here it’s going to get a little more technical. What the two have in common: Both use a technique called temporal sublayering for backward compatibility of HFR with SFR. ATSC includes optional temporal filtering for enhancing the standard frame rate picture when temporal sublayering is used,

HFR: DVB and ATSC – temporal sublayering:
How does this work? In ATSC and DVB both, PID (program ID) = 0 is the SFR version, and PID = 1 is the HFR enhancement element, to be used along with PID 0 to reproduce the HFR version. In DVB, it actually wouldn’t matter which PID you viewed, they are just the odd and even frames, so each represents a half-frame rate feed, with just a slight timing offset. In ATSC, the frames are a bit different. The frames in PID 0 are a weighted sum of the odd and even frames of the HFR signal. The result is that the PID 0 content has an artificial motion blur. The HFR camera needs a 360 degree shutter (i.e., photons are being captured essentially 100% of the time; the camera doesn’t blink). The contents of the PID 1 frames are the weighted difference between the two signals. The trick here occurs in the receiver: As in DVB, if you don’t know better, show PID 0, you’ll get a usable SFR signal with full motion blur (depending on the weightings). If you do know better, you recover consecutive HFR frames by summing and differencing the two PIDs frames to reconstitute the original odd & even frames of the HFR.

In HFR demos the Ultra HD Forum has given over the last few years, they showed the DVB technique and sometimes, in earlier demos, done it poorly: The camera didn’t have a 360-degree shutter, it was more like 180, so the camera was capturing 100fps, but the exposure was 1/200th second in duration. Odd frames went to PID 0, even to PID 1, and when viewing only one of those, the play-out was 50fps, but the shutter was effectively 90 degrees (still a 1/200th of a second exposure), giving a very staccato, strobe-like presentation which was hard to watch. Eventually, they got a HFR camera with a 360-degree shutter, so the SFR playout appeared as if having a 180 degree shutter, which looks acceptable.

High Frame Rate is Especially Beneficial for Sports Content. Picture Credit: Ultra HD Forum.

To be sure, these two flavors are not competing in the same market, can coexist in software or silicon in the same TV set, probably do not involve any license fee and are not a matter for a future format war, just in case anyone gets worried. The ATSC and DVB solutions can be used for terrestrial TV, DTH satellite TV, cable TV and (multicast) IPTV. So what about (unicast) OTT streaming? There this compatibility is not an issue at all. The VoD provider just plays out the version that matches the capabilities of the viewer’s system. That can be 60 or perhaps 120fps (in the future, that is – current products such as Apple TV, Roku, ChromeCast and Amazon Fire TV don’t go beyond 60fps) but different frame rates will simply be different versions of the same asset, in the same way that a HD and 4K resolution are different version of the same asset.

HFR IN PRACTICE:
So can you go to a store and buy a HFR TV or monitor? One area where this will come in handy is gaming. Current gaming PCs as well as the upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the ninth generation of consoles, are (going to be) capable of HFR output. PC/gaming monitors already cater to that. High Frame Rate is one of the few feature areas where monitors are ahead of TVs. Most don’t do a too impressive job in terms of high dynamic range, contrast, peak brightness, wide color gamut, resolution, etc. But while TVs currently don’t exceed 60fps (claims about 120Hz, 240Hz, etc. are often marketing overstatement), gaming monitors can now routinely handle 144fps, 165fps and even 240fps. They’re locked in a numbers race, trying to keep up with graphics cards output capabilities. To what extent the human eye can appreciate the difference between 144fps and 240fps remains a question. Mark Rejhon, founder of Blurbusters, argues in favor of a “retina refresh rate” of over 1000fps based on quite extensive research that he’s been doing.

HFR demo with HLG HDR BY LG / EBU / 4 EVER PROJECT AT IFA 2016.

LG has given HFR TV demonstrations as far back as 2016, and more recently in 2018, when they announced sets for 2019. On 2018 models HFR support is still limited: They can play HFR files from USB, as proven in this LG OLED C8 test. Since 2019 LG high-end TVs have had HDMI 2.1 ports with 4K at 120fps via FRL (Frame Rate Link – HDMI 2.1’s new signalling system for 48Gb/s bandwidth), LG says. 2020 LG high-end TVs have the same HDMI 2.1 support with 4k120p via FRL. Here’s how they promote that on their website:

4K HFR GAMEPLAY ON A 2020 LG OLED TV.

It’s a feature that few reviewers pay attention to, probably because there’s so little HFR content out there, but it’s one of the things that makes LG’s current high-end UHD TVs intriguing. They are ready for 4K HFR from PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X (even if they may require a firmware update to fully enable HDMI 2.1 after certification). Very few other TVs are. LG is also specifying VRR with 4K 40-120Hz frequency range. Actually it’s also possible to do 4K120 (limited to 8-bit SDR and 4:2:0 chroma) over HDMI 2.0 bandwidth, but it is out of spec. Samsung has been doing it however since 2019 (in high-end TVs) and LG since 2020 (at least in OLED TVs). Several generations of TVs have 1080p120 support, even sometimes 1440p120. This is well within the HDMI 2.0 bandwidth. Test site Rtings has been certifying 1080p120 and 1440p120 in their reviews for some time now, as in this 2017 Sony A1E OLED TV review (check ‘supported resolutions’). There may even be older TVs out there. It could be going to take some time before we start seeing HFR content available, especially live content. There’s a good chance with HFR that, like with 4K resolution, streaming platforms will take the lead over broadcasters. So maybe look to DAZN rather than ESPN. But the chicken and egg situation that so often exists when the hardware makers or content providers need to innovate first you don’t need to worry about. The TV manufacturers have already done their part. Once 120fps TVs become common, broadcasters may begin shooting sports matches in HFR. This does not necessarily have to be in 4K. A program in 1080p at 100 or 120fps with HDR will look quite stunning. Until they’re ready for that, you can use motion interpolation to do the job.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Picture Credit: 20th Century Fox.

If you want to experience HFR for yourself, at home, you can buy the 4K HDR Ultra HD Blu-ray of Billy Lynn or Gemini Man. Both are authored at 60fps HFR, as the UHD BD standard doesn’t handle 120fps. In fact it also doesn’t handle 48fps, so you’re out of luck if you wanted to watch The Hobbit Trilogy at the proper frame rate. The regular 1080p HD SDR 2D Blu-rays and 3D Blu-rays contain the movie at 24fps. There is no Ultra HD Blu-ray of this yet but when it does arrive it’s surely going to be 24fps, too. A 3D Blu-ray of Billy Lynn comes bundled with the 4K disc, if you buy the right edition (linked above). Gemini Man was not released on 3D BD in most markets, but it was in Germany. The 3D discs are also 24fps. Unfortunately, the HFR format doesn’t support 3D and the 3D format doesn’t support HFR. VoD/streaming services do not offer any 3D or HFR content at the moment.

RECOMMENDED READING:
You can read more facts about and impressions of The Hobbit here on FlatpanelsHD, or read about the aftermath. There is plenty of coverage for Ang Lee’s movies but long before the days of internet, Douglas Trumbull – Visual Effects Supervisor for classic movies including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek and Blade Runner – did many experiments with HFR. This article about his movie Brainstorm offers a great summary of that. Trumbull and Cameron were speakers at a 2012 Siggraph panel session on HFR cinema, a report of which you can read here.

STANDARDS REFERENCED:
DVB UHD-1 Phase 2 (ETSI TS 101 154 v2.3.1)

ATSC 3.0 (A/341) Many thanks to Bill Redmann, Director of Standards, Immersive Media Technologies at InterDigital, for his explanation of the DVB and ATSC approaches to HFR/SFR compatibility and his contribution to this article.

Date: 08 Apr 2020
Written by: Yoeri Geutskens

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

Make Your Business More Accessible with New Blocks

From booking and scheduling to events and embeds, these six new blocks for your blog or business website help you to grow your audience, connect with more clients, and reach more customers.

Date: April 2, 2020

Written by: Cheri Lucas Rowlands

From our support sessions with customers each month, we know that growing your brand or business is a top website goal. And in this unprecedented time in which more people around the world are staying at home, it’s important to promote your products and services online to reach a wider audience and connect with more people.

Our team has been hard at work improving the block editor experience. We’ve launched six new blocks that integrate WordPress.com and Jetpack-enabled sites with popular services — Eventbrite, Calendly, Pinterest, Mapbox, Google Calendar, and OpenTable — enabling you to embed rich content and provide booking and scheduling options right on your blog or website.

Whether you’re an online boutique, a pilates studio, an independent consultant, or a local restaurant, these blocks offer you more ways to promote your brand or business. Take a look at each block — or simply jump to a specific one below.

Promote Online Events with the Eventbrite Block:

Looking for a way to promote an online event (like your museum’s virtual curator talk or your company’s webinar on remote work), or even an at-home livestream performance for your fans and followers? Offering key features of the popular event registration platform, the Eventbrite block embeds events on posts and pages so your visitors can register and purchase tickets right from your site.

Quick-start guide:

  • To use this block, you need an Eventbrite account. If you don’t have one, sign up at Eventbrite for free.
  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button and search for and select the Eventbrite Checkout block.
  • Enter the URL of your Eventbrite event. Read these steps from Eventbrite if you need help.
  • Select from two options: an In-page Embed shows the event details and registration options directly on your site. The Button & Modal option shows just a button; when clicked, the event details will pop up so your visitor can register.
Learn more on the Eventbrite block support page.

Schedule Sessions with the Calendly Block:

Want to make it easier for people to book private meditation sessions or language lessons with you? The Calendly block, featured recently in our guide on moving your classes online, is a handy way for your clients and students to book a session directly on your site — eliminating the time spent coordinating schedules. You can also use the Calendly block to schedule team meetings or group events.

Quick-start guide:

  • To use this block, you need a Calendly account. Create one for free at Calendly.
  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button and search for and select the Calendly block.
  • Enter your Calendly web address or embed code. Follow these steps from Calendly if you need help.
  • Select from two styles: the Inline style embeds a calendar directly onto your site; the Link style inserts a button that a visitor can click to open a pop-up calendar.
  • This block is currently available to sites on the WordPress.com Premium, Business, or eCommerce plans. It’s free on Jetpack sites.
Learn more on the Calendly block support page.

Up Your Visual Game with the Pinterest Block:

Strong visuals help to provide inspiration, tell your stories, and sell your products and services. Pinterest is an engaging way for bloggers, influencers, and small business owners to enhance their site content and expand their following. With the Pinterest block, you can embed and share pins, boards, and profiles on your site.

Quick-start guide:

  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button and search for and select the Pinterest block.
  • Paste the URL of a pin, board, or profile you’d like to display and click Embed. Note that you can only embed public boards.
  • Pro tip: in the block editor, go to Layout Elements and select Layout Grid to create a visually striking layout with pins, boards, and profiles, as shown above.

Display Locations with the Map Block:

A map on your site is a quick visual way to display a location, like your restaurant’s takeout window or the drop-off spot for donations to a local food bank. Powered by mapping platform Mapbox, the Map block embeds a customized map on your site. Show the location of your business, a chain of boutique hotels, the meeting spots for your nonprofit’s volunteers, and more.

Quick-start guide:

  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button and search for and select the Map block.
  • In the text field, type the location you want to display and select the correct location from among the results that appear.
  • Click on the red marker to edit the title and caption of the marker.
  • Explore the toolbar for block-specific settings. Add more markers, for example, by clicking the Add a marker button.
  • In the sidebar, customize your map’s appearance (including colors, height, and zoom level).

Explore more settings on the Map block support page.

Share your calendar with the Google Calendar block:

Are you an author planning a book tour (or a series of online readings)? A digital marketing consultant hosting social media workshops? A neighborhood pop-up bakery? With the Google Calendar block, you can display a calendar of upcoming events or your hours of operation.

Quick-start guide:

  • In Google Calendar, click the three dots next to your calendar name and select Settings and sharing.
  • Under Access Permissions, ensure Make available to public is checked.
  • Click on Integrate calendar on the left and copy the code under Embed code.
  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button, search for and select the Custom HTML block, and paste the code you copied in Google Calendar.
  • Publish your post or page. The next time you edit this post or page, you’ll see the code has been converted to shortcode.

Explore more settings on the Google Calendar block support page.

Streamline reservations with the OpenTable block:

If you’re a restaurant or cafe owner, a primary goal of your site is to increase the number of bookings. Sure, people aren’t dining out right now, but you can be ready to take reservations in the future. With the OpenTable block, people can reserve a table directly from a post or page instead of calling or booking through a different reservation service.

Quick-start guide:

  • To use this block, your restaurant must be listed on OpenTable. Create an OpenTable listing now.
  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button and search for and select the OpenTable block.
  • Enter your OpenTable Reservation Widget embed code. Check this OpenTable guide if you need help.
  • Explore the block’s toolbar and sidebar settings. For example, choose from four different embed styles: StandardTallWide, and Button.
  • This block is currently available to sites on the WordPress.com Premium, Business, or eCommerce plans. It’s free on Jetpack sites.
Learn more on the OpenTable block support page.

Which blocks are you most excited about? Stay tuned for more new blocks soon!

SOURCE: https://wordpress.com/blog/2020/04/02/new-blocks-for-your-business/

No Need to Reduce Video Streaming Quality, Say Experts and ISPs

Date: 23 Mar 2020

Written by: Rasmus Larsen

There is no need to reduce video streaming quality, experts and internet service providers say after Amazon, Disney+, Netflix and YouTube have responded to a request from EU.

Amazon, Disney+, Netflix & YouTube:

Netflix was the first streaming service to reduce its bitrate for 4K HDR, HD and SD video streams while YouTube has made SD the default option (the user can still manually select higher quality) after European Commissioner Thierry Breton urged streaming services in Europe to “switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary” due to the coronavirus situation. Over the weekend, Amazon confirmed that it too will reduce its bitrate. Disney+ will deliver reduced bitrates in Europe for 30 days after launching in parts of Europe tomorrow. There are reports that Apple TV+ has also drastically reduced its streaming quality but the company has yet to comment on the matter. At this time, FlatpanelsHD is not seeing any impact to Apple TV+ streaming quality in Europe.

MORE THAN ENOUGH CAPACITY:

Is it really necessary? Not at all, a leading internet expert told Decrypt after EU urged streaming services to act. – “That just tells me they don’t understand how the Internet works,” David Clark, senior research scientist at MIT, told Decrypt. Clark has been leading the development of the internet since the mid-1970s, according to his biography. He argues that it is a myth that the internet can reach a peak. For example, a corner of the internet in a local area may be experiencing congestion but “it is not a systemic failure“.

Netflix and others are already automatically scaling down video quality in case of any congestion. – “It already does that automatically. You don’t have to tell them to. It just does it,” Clark added. His sentiment is being echoed by ISPs (internet service providers) in the UK, Nordics, and elsewhere.

We have more than enough capacity in our UK broadband network to handle mass-scale homeworking,” Howard Watson, CTO of BT in the UK, told BBC. “Even if the same heavy data traffic that we see each evening were to run throughout the daytime, there is still enough capacity for work applications to run simultaneously.”

We will NOT run out of bandwidth. Our broadband network is built for many times the data consumption that is being seen now,” Thomas Woldiderich, Branch Manager for telecommunications policy at the Danish Energy Association, wrote in response to the news.

Netflix’s action is most of all symbolism. The EU already has rules in place to deal with any potential pressure on networks.

Source: Decrypt, BBC, Danish Energy Association

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Create With Confidence and Better Blocks

The evolution of the block editor is packed full of features and UI improvements.

Date: March 26, 2020

Written by: Ramon

In the last few years, the teams working on the block editor have learned a lot about how people build sites now and how they want to build sites in the future.

The latest version represents the culmination of these discoveries, and the next stage in the editor’s evolution.

With better visuals and more advanced features, it’ll keep designers, developers, writers, and editors productive and happy, and — tension-building drumroll — it’s in your editor right now!

What’s new

With a comprehensive visual refresh, a plethora of new features, and dozens of bug fixes, the new block editor comes with a lot to unpack.

What follows is just a small (but delectable) sample of the many ways we’ve upgraded your editing experience. (You can get the full list of goodies in the release notes.)

We hope you enjoy.

A revamped editor UI

The first thing you’ll notice is the slick UI. Buttons, icons, text, and dropdowns are all sporting a contrast boost, with bolder colors and more whitespace between buttons, text labels, and menu items.

The world is made of blocks
The new block editor’s UI

As you navigate through the editor’s menus, individual items are clearly highlighted, allowing you to quickly identify what you’ve selected.

Active menu items have distinct highlights

The block toolbars are now simpler, displaying the most commonly-used features. For example, paragraph blocks show only bolditalic, and link formatting buttons. You’ll find all the extra options in the dropdown menu.

The block toolbar options are simpler and uncluttered

What’s more, instead of listing blocks within a fixed-height container, the block inserter now spans the height of the window. You’ll now see more blocks and block categories at once with less scrolling.

Block inserter spanning the full height of the window
The block inserter spans the full height of your screen

Introducing block patterns

With the block editor as your canvas you can design almost any layout you can imagine – but building intricate page structures should never get in the way of your creative process.

Here’s where the blocks really shine: along with individual blocks, the editor now includes block patterns, a library of predefined and reusable block layouts, that you use on any page or post.

To check out the list of available patterns, click on the block pattern icon (on the top right) to reveal a collection of pre-built layouts:

Block patterns are groups of individual blocks combined to create elegant layouts

Pick the pattern you want to use, and it will appear in your editor ready for you to customize with your own content.

Right now, you’ll find a few introductory patterns – Two Columns of TextTwo Buttons, Cover, and Two Images Side by Side – but we’ll be adding more and more patterns as they’re available. When the block patterns API opens up to third-party authors, you’ll also be able to develop and share your own.

(Have an idea for a great pattern? The block editor developer community is actively seeking ideas. The more ideas they receive, the better your editor will be!)

Colors, colors everywhere

When it comes to words and columns, websites aren’t newspapers: things don’t have to be black and white.

Use the new Text Color selector tool to change the color of sentences, and even individual words and letters. Highlight the text you’d like to change, then click on the arrow dropdown and select “Text Color.”

Select “Text Color” from the options
Pick the color of your word or character

To change the background colors of your columns, select the column and head to the sidebar, to Color settings.

Columns get background colors too!

The road ahead is paved with blocks

There’s still a long way to go, and the editor’s community of contributors hasn’t given its collective keyboards a moment’s rest. Work on polishing UI elements like the sidebar and dropdowns continues along with advancements to block patterns and other exciting features.

Are there ways we could improve the site editing experience even more? Please let us know! We’re always keen to hear how we can make the web a better place for everyone.

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5 Times More Coronavirus-themed Malware Reports during March

Date: March 20, 2020

Written by: Bitdefender Labs

5 Times More Coronavirus-themed Malware Reports during March

Government, Hospitality, Healthcare, Education & Research, and Retail are among the verticals most targeted on the Coronavirus heatmap.

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, cybercriminals have started piggybacking news of the crisis to deliver malware, conduct phishing, and even perform online fraud by preying on the panic caused by a dearth of medical supplies and reliable information about the pandemic.

The most recent Bitdefender telemetry shows unusual activity regarding Coronavirus-related threats: the number of malicious reports related to Coronavirus has increased by more than 475% in March, compared to February. And we still have about two more weeks to go until April.

These campaigns were likely mostly targeted at countries that have started suffering an increase in Coronavirus infections, leveraging the fear on everyone’s mind.

With officials struggling to come up with plans and quarantine procedures, threat actors seem to have mobilized quickly and started luring victims with the promise of new and exclusive information on protection procedures.

Malicious Reports Soar in March

From 1,448 malicious reports in February to 8,319 reports until March 16th, the number has sharply increased, as the real COVID-19 virus spreads aggressively around the world.

Some of the most-targeted verticals seem to be government, retail, hospitality, transportation and education & research. While it may seem odd, it does make sense that these verticals are targeted as they actively interact with large groups of individuals and are most interested in learning more about measures to be taken to prevent a Coronavirus infection.

Consequently, one reason why cybercriminals have been actively targeting these verticals with phishing emails impersonating the WHO (World Health Organization), NATO, and even UNICEF is that employees likely expect official information from known, global organizations.

A breakdown into which Government institutions seem targeted most reveals that education ministries, health ministries and departments, and fire services have been attacked most.

In healthcare, hospitals & clinics, pharmaceutical institutions, and distributors of medical equipment, were mostly targeted, potentially with messages of procedures that need to be taken, drugs that could work on preventing or treating infection, and even medical supplies that were allegedly still in stock.

For example, the email above seems to target Healthcare services in Thailand judging from the title, which is translated from Thai (“Fwd: Re: CoronaVirus Express Information”), and the name of the attached file (“Ministry of Public Health Corona Virus Information Urgent 2020.gz”). It promises new and exclusive information to medical staff. To make the email seem more legitimate, it uses the official logos of the Thailand Establishment of National Institute of Health.

In rough translation, the email (seen above) urges citizens, schools, commissioners and business owners to follow the instructions in the attached document to stay “safe and free from the viruses.” It also claims the file contains a list of pharmacies that distribute “a qualified protective drug.” Needless to say, anyone opening the tainted attachment will be infected with a Trojan, specifically the NanoBot Trojan.

Education & Research verticals, where messages reached universities, schools, and technical institute, are all crowded places eagerly awaiting instructions on how to prepare for the Coronavirus outbreak. They too have been selectively targeted with spearphishing emails.

A look at some of the tainted documents received by government institutions shows all filenames, naturally, share the same “coronavirus” string and promise to offer new and exclusive information regarding the outbreak.

For example, popular document booby traps range from claiming the email attachments are PDF documents when in fact they’re everything from “.exe” to “.bat” files. That means that, unless users have the “File name extensions” option ticked in the View menu of File Explorer; they’ll likely fall for this double extension scam. Of course, the files are laced with malware and, as soon as they’re executed, they start deploying threats ranging from LokiBot and HawkEye to Kodiac and NanoBot (see the table below).

Most of these Trojans, including NanoBot, are designed to steal information, such as usernames and passwords, potentially for use by threat actors either for financial profit or to gain remote access to accounts, services, and even endpoints.

Below, you can see a table with examples of names for each malicious documents received by each vertical, along with each email subject (where applicable).

Going After Countries Aggressively Affected by COVID-19

In terms of the geographical distribution for all malicious reports involving the Coronavirus, things escalated quickly between January and March. In January, reports were coming in only from some countries such as the United States, China, and Germany. By March, malicious reports came in from all around the world, and no European country was spared.

In fact, during March, the largest number of malicious reports was registered from countries such as Italy, the United States, Turkey, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Canada, Romania, and Thailand. All these countries that have been seriously afflicted by the COVID-19 outbreak, which is why it’s likely these malware campaigns have been focusing specifically on these regions.

As if having to deal with the Coronavirus in real life wasn’t enough, threat actors have been exploiting panic, misinformation, and confusion in an attempt to maximize their efforts in spreading scams and infections or generally profiting off of everyone’s fears.

Here’s what you should know

With countries straining to find ways to contain and even stop the spread of COVID-19 infections, the average user/citizen is undoubtedly seeking help and information from any online source on how to stay safe. However, that information may not always come from a reputable source.

Malware is a dime a dozen and cybercriminals will stop at nothing to trick users into installing it. It may already be difficult to cope with the real-life virus, and dealing with cyber “viruses” is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind.

However, just like in real life, good (security) hygiene means you’re not only keeping yourself safe but you’re also helping those around you. So carefully read through emails to make sure they’re legitimate, don’t open attachments unless you’re absolutely sure they’re safe, and try using a security solution that can keep you safe from a wide range of threats, so you can focus on what matters: keeping your family safe!

Note: This article is based on technical information provided courtesy of the Bitdefender Labs teams.

Written by: Bitdefender Labs

Source: https://labs.bitdefender.com

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YouTube and Amazon Prime Video join Netflix in Cutting Your Streaming Quality

Date: Fri, Mar 20, 2020
Written by: David Snelling

YouTube and Amazon have both now confirmed that they will join Netflix by reducing the quality of streams. This change is being put in place in a bid to help networks cope with the increased demand as millions stay home during the coronavirus outbreak.

YouTube and Amazon Prime Video subscribers could see the quality of their boxsets and movies plummet as firms attempt to help networks cope with the millions of people staying at home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus crisis. Both streaming platforms have confirmed plans to join Netflix, which has announced plans to restrict the amount of bandwidth that will be available to those who pay for Ultra HD quality until things return to some form of normality.

This radical change is thought to offer a significant saving, which would reduce data consumption by around 25 percent – allowing more people to stream at once during these unprecedented times. To put this into some perspective, an hour of standard definition video uses around 1 GB of data, while HD can use up to 3 GB an hour.

Now YouTube and Amazon have both agreed to follow Netflix with users about to getting lower quality streams sent to their devices. Explaining more about the decision, a spokesperson for YouTube said: “We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.”

We are in ongoing conversations with the regulators including Ofcom, governments and network operators all over Europe. We will continue our work to minimise stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.

Amazon prime video netflix
YouTube Has Now Joined Netflix in Dropping Video Quality (Image: GETTY)

And a spokesperson for Amazon confirmed: “Prime Video is working with local authorities and Internet Service Providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion, including in Europe where we’ve already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers.

Despite this news of networks coming under increased pressure, it seems the UK’s broadband firms are confident they can cope. BT says its networks are built to support “evening peak” network capacity, which generally equates to at least ten times daytime demand. As a result, the broadband company is confident it can handle mass-scale home-working in response to COVID-19.

Speaking about the challenges ahead, Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division even with a massive increase of people working from home, broadband traffic won’t reach the levels of peak times where millions of people stream HD video at the same time. That’s the kind of traffic we’ve built our networks to support. We’re making sure there’s plenty of capacity in the network and that critical services are supported, and our network has more than ten times the amount of capacity needed for normal everyday use.

Working from home won’t generate significantly more traffic across our network than working in the office, even with more video calling and conferencing. So if more people need to work from home, our network will keep up with demand.”

Date: Fri, Mar 20, 2020
Written by: David Snelling
Source: https://www.express.co.uk

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A Terrible Time to Own a 4K TV as Netflix, Sky and YouTube Make Radical Changes.

4K TV Sky, Netflix Amazon
Why 4K TV Won’t Get as Much Content on its Screen (Image: GETTY)

Date: Sat, Mar 21, 2020
Written by: David Snelling

4K TV owners are being hit by some drastic changes with services such as Netflix downgrading the quality of its content and Sky not broadcasting any live 4K sport. These updates have been implemented in a bid to help networks cope with the increased demand as people are told to stay at home.

4K TV owners are being hit by some drastic changes with services such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube downgrading the quality of their content and Sky not broadcasting any live 4K sport. If you own a pin-sharp 4K TV then now is a disappointing time to be sat in front of it.

With the coronavirus forcing millions to stay at home, many of the world’s biggest broadcasters are currently reducing the quality of their content to help broadband networks cope under the increased strain.

Earlier this week, Netflix confirmed that it would now start lowering the standard of its streams in a bid to help reduce data consumption by 25 percent.

Speaking about the changes the streaming company said: “Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and [Netflix chief executive] Reed Hastings, and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus, Netflix has decided to begin reducing bitrates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days.”

Netflix has now been joined by YouTube and Amazon Prime Video who also say they are temporarily stopping consumers watching in HD and 4K.

In a statement, YouTube confirmed: “We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.

And Amazon added: “Prime Video is working with local authorities and internet service providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion.

As a quick guide, an hour of standard definition video uses around 1GB of data meanwhile, HD can use a staggeringly higher 3GB an hour.

BT recently announced that its networks could cope under the increased pressure with the firm saying, its networks are built to support “evening peak” network capacity, which generally equates to at least ten times daytime demand.

However, it seems streaming services are now trying to help soften the load especially for areas with ageing copper cables.

Along with these streaming services, Sky Sports fans are also seeing a huge drop in the content they can view in 4K.

Sky broadcast a large number of events in this pin-sharp quality including some of its Premier League games and all of the F1 action from every race around the world. With all top-flight sports on hold, there’s less for people to watch in ultra HD.

The satellite TV firm is clearly aware that its offerings are currently much less attractive with the company now allowing subscribers to cancel their Sky Sports packages without facing any extra charges.

Of course, dropping the quality of streams makes perfect sense during these difficult times but your 4K TV certainly won’t offer the same stunning experience until things get back to normal.

Date: Sat, Mar 21, 2020
Written by: David Snelling
Source: https://www.express.co.uk

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Working Remotely: An Automattic Reader.

New to remote work? We’ve compiled some of the best resources Automatticians have created on the topic.

Date: March 20, 2020

Written by: Jeff Rozic

How does a distributed company — a group of people with shared business goals but spread out around the world, representing different cultures, family settings, and local health considerations — stick together during a major health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic?

We don’t intend to make it sound easy. And we are aware — from our families, our communities, the businesses we support, and our customers — that many, if not most companies cannot actually work 100 percent remotely because of the nature of their business.

For those who can transition to distributed work in the wake of this evolving crisis, we wanted to suggest ideas that might help colleagues work well together even when you’re no longer all sharing the same physical space.

We’re lucky that many Automatticians have shared advice and best practices based on their many years of working from home — and we’ve compiled some of these resources below to empower others to listen to and support their coworkers during a difficult and disruptive time.

Of course, from his first post on remote work to his most recent one reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic, to his Distributed podcast and beyond, founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg is a prominent voice on remote work and distributed culture. To send you off on a lighter note, Matt published his first “What’s In My Bag” post in 2014 and has done it again several times since.

We hope these resources are helpful to you during these trying times, and that you and everyone in your communities stay safe.

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YouTube Reduce Streaming Quality to SD Resolution in Europe

Date: 20 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


YouTube will also lower its streaming quality in response to EU’s request to help reduce strain on internet bandwidth, according to Reuters.

YouTube in SD Earlier this week, European Commissioner Thierry Breton urged Netflix and other major streaming services to switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary. Netflix has said that it will reduce bitrates across all streams in Europe.

Google’s YouTube says that it will also reduce its streaming quality in Europe by making SD resolution the default.

We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.

However, it is not clear if users will be able to manually adjust streaming quality on YouTube. At this time, the YouTube player in our browser still automatically jumps to 1080p.

The report from Reuters said that the decision was made after European Commissioner Thierry Breton spoke to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

Source: Reuters

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4K vs 8K: Study finds that few viewers can see the difference

Date: 04 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


A double-blind study carried out by Pixar, Amazon, LG, ASC and Warner Bros found that few viewers can tell see the difference between 8K and 4K content on an 88-inch 8K OLED TVs, according to a report by Techhive.

4K TV vs 8K TV:

Multiple TV makers have started selling 8K TVs but there has not been much research into the benefits of 8K TVs. FlatpanelsHD has also found that some of the early 8K TVs are not capable of reproducing 8K resolution and last year we advised our readers not to buy an 8K TV of any type.

A comprehensive, double-blind study carried out by Pixar, Amazon, LG, American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), and Warner Bros – and described in impressive detail by Techhive – has now examined the subject, with the goal of finding out if viewers can see a difference between 4K and 8K.

A Comprehensive, Double-Blind Study 4K vs 8K

For the double-blind study seven different native 8K HDR10 video clips see box above were shown on an 88-inch 8K OLED TV (LG 88Z9) to 139 participants over three days. Participants were seated in two rows at about five and nine feet from the screen, respectively. The 4K Clips were Downscaled from the 8K Clips and then Upscaled Again to 8K on a PC using four-pixel duplication cubic.

In each session, the 4K and 8K versions of each clip were played in three sequences, though the sequences for each clip were not presented one immediately after another. In two of the sequences, the 4K and 8K versions were randomly assigned the labels “A” and “B” and played twice in an alternating manner—that is, A-B-A-B—after which the participants indicated which one looked better on a scoring form see Fig. 3.

In the third sequence, the 4K version was played four times, though the participants still saw the labels “A” and “B” alternate and scored them as before. This provided a control group to assure more robust statistics, Techhive explained and added that each participant was evaluated for their visual acuity.

THE RESULTS:

Since it was a comprehensive study that also took into account the viewers’ visual acuity, for example 20/20 vision or 20/10 vision, results were presented in several different ways. In the average of all results, the 8K clips were rated marginally Slightly Better than the 4K clips, said Techhive.

When evaluating only results from viewers with better 20/10 vision, two 8K clips A Bug’s Life and The Nature Footage were rated “Slightly Better” than the 4K Clips.

Lastly, all “slightly better“, “better” and “much better” responses were combined into a single “better” score to account for the nuance that people may have different perspectives on what is, for example, “slightly better” as opposed to “better“. The outcome was these two graphs.

Left: Distribution of Scores – Right: 3 Grades of “Better” Combined into Single Score.

As you can see, many viewers rated the 4K Version Higher than the 8K Version, which obviously should not happen. Believe the reason you see a large number of People Rating 4K better than 8K is that they really can’t see a difference and are simply guessing.

The more interesting point is the fact that for all clips except Clip 7, most people scored 4K the same as 8K. And 8K better than 4K is second most scored option. For Clip 7, it’s different, and most people scored 8K better than 4K, which was an interesting take-away, said Michael Zink, VP of Technology, Warner Bros. We recommend that you read the full article on Techhive.

Date: 04 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Netflix Lowers Streaming Quality in Europe in Response to EU Request

Date: 20 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


In response to EU’s request to help reduce strain on internet bandwidth, Netflix will reduce its streaming quality in Europe by lowering the bitrate for 30 days.

REDUCED STREAMING QUALITY:

Earlier this week, European Commissioner Thierry Breton urged Netflix and other major streaming services to switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary and said that he had already discussed the initiative with Netflix CEO Reed Hasting.

To beat #COVID19, we stay at home. Teleworking and streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain. To secure Internet access for all, let’s switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary,” Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for internal market, wrote on twitter on March 18.

Netflix has now responded to EU’s request – partially. It says that it will begin reducing bitrates across all streams in Europe for 30 days. Netflix estimates that it will reduce traffic in Europe by approximately 25%.

“Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings – and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus – Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” a spokesperson from Netflix said. “We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”

NOT SD RESOLUTION:

FlatpanelsHD has found that Netflix still offers streaming in HD resolution as well as 4K HDR10 and 4K Dolby Vision for now. The company has not capped its streaming quality to SD resolution.

It appears that Netflix’s approach is rather to cut off the higher bitrate levels. This is possible because Netflix uses adaptive bitrate meaning that all content is encoded and stored at multiple quality levels (bitrate, resolutions etc.). The viewer will automatically get the highest quality level available based on broadband speeds and hardware.

At the time of writing, FlatpanelsHD is seeing a 35-50% reduction in bitrate for some 4K streams while other 4K streams appear to be unaffected. We are seeing a more modest reduction in bitrate for HD streams but there are fluctuations here, too. As Netflix is still rolling out the changes, it is too early to draw conclusions. We refer to the comments section below for more information on how to check streaming quality on your Netflix streams at home.

This means that Netflix streaming in Europe will look more compressed than usual higher levels of artefacts, softer details etc. but still relatively good compared to many other streaming services. Apple, Amazon, Disney, Google and YouTube have not announced plans to reduce their streaming bitrate at his time.

Date: 20 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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8K is Making Progress Bit by Bit

Date: November 12, 2019

Written by: Thierry Fautier

It happened first at IFA 2019, Europe’s largest consumer tech conference in Berlin. 8K was everywhere. At IBC2019, expectations for 8K technology demonstrations were high. Since almost every TV maker around the world has announced 8K TV production. Many have even replaced their 4K TV offer with 8K.

As 2019 comes to a close, 8K continues to show strong interest, but what are the potential hurdles to overcome before mainstream adoption? We still don’t have enough information on next-generation MPEG codec or on Versatile Video Coding (VVC) licensing. And are we certain that VVC is the right option?

Phase 1: the demonstrations for future tech in today’s world

There is real-world proof that encoding for 8K is possible today. Here’s a rundown on some demos that showcase the possibility of 8K video:

  • The live BT sports demo: This was a collaborative effort. From Amsterdam, multiple partners came together to deliver one hour of live broadcast in 8K showcasing the Gallagher Premiership Rugby 7s tournament. It proved that 8K can be produced and transmitted live from the stadium to the studios.
  • Harmonic’s IBC2019 8K TV demo: This showed the next step from stadium to screen. With VVC, we can reach 8K resolution with close to 50% bit rate reduction over the popular High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), but that’s not all. Harmonic was also live streaming using content-aware encoding (CAE) technology to provide different bit rates and resolutions from a KPN data center to the IBC Future Zone over a private line. We used updated firmware on a Samsung TV to decode the stream based on the DASH.JS player. The content of an equestrian show jumping contest that leads to an average of 14 m/s using CAE. This represented a world first.  We can now measure the true potential of CAE and see how TV sets convert up to 8K. Today, NHK is transmitting live at 85 Mbps via satellite and using the compression techniques developed three years ago and it provides a less than optimal result. The Harmonic demo validates that CAE efficiency depends on content complexity. Even at 39 Mbps, we are still more than 50% lower than HEVC in production at NHK. This matches what VVC promises in 2022, proving that we can use today’s technology to deliver tomorrow’s content, and without burning the budget.

Phase 2: 8K adoption is starting, and it’s exciting

8K is now being delivered with technology that was developed almost three years ago, which explains the 85 Mbps figures. We are now entering the second phase. Operators want more affordable bit rates, with a goal to come close to what is currently used for 4K OTT streaming (a 25 Mbps connection is required for Netflix in HDR). We have demonstrated that it is now possible with a range of 14 Mbps to 39 Mbps, without any optimization done for 8K, using cloud-powered encoding and CAE technology.

2019 was the 8K pre-game. There are more 8K TVs being made, and sales are predicted to pick up in 2020. This is especially the case in countries where 8K will be available. Tomorrow’s 8K streaming experience on connected TVs is in the starting block and waiting for the go-ahead to launch at full speed. 2020 is just around the corner and the games are about to begin. And we mean the actual games. The 2020 Tokyo games are expected to be the first large-scale 8K content ever produced. Will you be watching?

Source: https://www.harmonicinc.com

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Announcing a New Scholarship for LGBTQ+ WordPress Community Members

Automattic announces a scholarship for the LGBTQ+ WordPress Community to provide financial support in attending a WordCamp flagship event.

Date: March 11, 2020

Written by: Niesha Sweet

The Queeromattic Employee Resource Group, Automattic’s LGBTQ+ internal organization, is proud to announce a scholarship for LGBTQ+ WordPress Community members who need financial support to attend a WordCamp flagship event for the first time. 

For those unfamiliar with WordCamps, they are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other. There are currently four flagship events each year: WordCamp Europe, WordCamp Asia, WordCamp US, and WordCamp Latin America. We’re going to sponsor one member of the LGBTQ+ community to attend each of these events!

Our hope in sponsoring folks to attend an initial WordCamp flagship event is that it will provide a career-enhancing opportunity for folks to connect more deeply with members of the WordPress community and level up their own WordPress skills to take back into their everyday life. Many of us at Automattic found our way here through the wider WordPress community and we’re really excited to share that chance with folks from the LGBTQ+ community who might not have the opportunity otherwise. 

Right now, we’re accepting applications to WordCamp US 2020. If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a WordPress user, we encourage you to apply: https://automattic.com/scholarships/queeromattic/  To be considered, please apply no later than Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 12 a.m. Pacific Time.

If you know someone who would be perfect for an opportunity like this, please share it with them! We want folks from all over the world to have the chance to benefit from this new scholarship.

Important note: Due to COVID-19, we will be working closely with the WordCamp event staff to ensure the health and safety of all attendees. This means that scholarships are not guaranteed for 2020 events. Please keep this in mind when applying and sharing this opportunity with others.

Turning a Page with Page Layouts

Date: March 9, 2020

Written by: Ian Stewart

Need to add a new page to your site but don’t know where to start? Making a brand new site on WordPress.com and want to design a homepage quickly? There’s a new addition to the WordPress experience that’ll help with exactly that.

Let’s take a look at Page Layouts! They’re pre-designed pages you can drop content into, without needing to decide what to put where.

To add a Page Layout to your site, head to My Sites > Site > Pages and click the “Add New Page” button — it’s the pink one:

Next, we’ll show you a selection of layouts you can choose from — there are layouts available for

  • About pages
  • Contact pages
  • Services pages
  • Portfolio pages
  • Restaurant Menu, Team, and Blog pages
  • and even starting points for Home pages

Here’s one of the available Portfolio Page Layouts, for example.

These layouts are all made using blocks in our block editor, which means you can edit the images, content, and layout all in one place. Start by replacing the default images and text, and you’ll be on your way!

You can use Page Layouts to make great-looking pages with only a few clicks. For inspiration, here are a selection of layouts using a variety of WordPress.com themes.

What other types of pages and designs would be useful for your site? Let us know what you’d like to see — we’d love to hear from you!

A Crash Course in Remote Management

Curious about managing teams while working remotely? Watch this free webinar for best practices.

Date: March 6, 2020

Written by: Cate Huston

Remote work is a prominent topic lately, as people around the world are doing their best to live their lives and keep themselves and their families safe and prepared during the COVID-19 outbreak. The impact of this outbreak is felt across societies and cultures as well as in the workplace.  

Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, is a primarily distributed company with more than 1,000 employees across 76 countries. I’m an engineering lead, currently working on the Developer Experience team. As Automattic has grown, we’ve learned a lot about working remotely and across time zones, and have shared insights on what we see as the future of work on the Distributed podcast, hosted by our CEO, Matt Mullenweg. 

This week, Nicole Sanchez, the founder of Vaya Consulting and an expert on workplace culture, and I had an opportunity to co-present a Crash Course in Remote Management, a free one-hour webinar hosted on Zoom. Nicole has previously held social impact and leadership roles at GitHub and the Kapor Center for Social Impact.

Nicole and I walked an engaged audience through proven practices and what they’ve learned about leading, communicating with, and measuring the success of remote teams. Participants offered insightful questions, leading to lively discussions around:

  • Collaboration and relationship-building.
  • The cost, benefit, and ideal frequency of bringing teams together for face-to-face interaction (in general, if not as commonly right now).
  • Communicating and prioritizing messages across a variety of channels. 
  • Encouraging people to go outside, exercise, spend time with family, or otherwise step away from the computer (also known as being “AFK,” or “Away From Keyboard”) without the fear of being judged or anxiety over being less productive.

Some companies are encouraging employees to experiment with working from home, which can feel very different from in-person and office work. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out the full video recording of the course:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH NOW ON YOUTUBE:
A Crash Course in Remote Management

Matt’s latest blog post, “Coronavirus and the Remote Work Experiment No One Asked For,” is also worth a read. For more information and advice on COVID-19, please visit resources from the CDCWorld Health Organization, and other health authorities.

The HDTV is Officially Dead.

Date: 27 Feb 2020
Written by: Yoeri Geutskens

In barely seven years, 4K TV has evolved from high-end niche product to not just mainstream proposition but in fact to the low end of the TV market. On its way it’s pushed HDTV out of the market, meanwhile it’s been put under pressure already by the advent of 8K TV. The Resolution Gap was already big; now the chasm is gaping. The overlap has reduced to almost zero. How so? There are several resolutions used in broadcast television: 480p (SD), 720p, 1080i (HD) and 1080p (Full HD). Yes, 4K Ultra HD broadcasts exist but they cover well under 1% of all programs available. Meanwhile in TV hardware, we’ve got two resolutions you can choose from in 2020: 4K and 8K. Most major TV brands have phased out HDTVs, which until last year covered the low end of the market, where margins are low.

ONE OF THE FIRST 4K TVS – THE $24.999 2012 SONY BRAVIA XBR-84X900

4K TV now fulfills that role. That may sound surprising, because 4K ijs relatively new. The first 4K model, the Sony XBR-84X900, was introduced about seven years ago, at the end of 2012, at a price level of $24.999. Now you can buy one at $249.99! That’s a price erosion of 99% over a 7-year stretch, or close to 50% annually. That’s how steep the price erosion is in this business. No wonder even major electronics firms have difficulty competing and remaining profitable, and quite a few have divested their TV operations to license their brand name to leaner manufacturers. Granted, that entry-level $249 TV is a just 43-inch in size – a substantially smaller model than the 84-inch model Sony debuted back then. It’s also a second-tier brand – Insignia. But it uses the same display panel technology (edge-lit LCD), it’s got the exact same number of pixels, and in some ways it’s more advanced. It’s got HDMI 2.0 instead of v1.4 (which could not handle HDCP 2.2 copy protection that most source devices demand, or 4K input at frame rates higher than 30 fps); it can handle HDR signals, even if its peak brightness is not great. It’s got built-in streaming functionality and comes with a range of apps for all sorts of video services. And if size does matter, you can now get a 75-inch 4K TV for well under one grand – one twenty-fifth or just 4% of what you had to pay at introduction.

2019 $249 UHD TV

FAST EVOLUTION FOR HARDWARE:
It may also come as a shock that in this short period of time, 4K has evolved from the very high end of TV to the mainstream and low end of the market. Low end you say? Yes, for a number of brands, such as Sony, the most basic models are now 4K and HD has been dropped from the range. Samsung has confirmed only a single HDTV in its 2020 range – a 32” version of The Frame, their high design models, which by definition are not low end and likely have some margin left in them. LG confirmed they will not have any new Full HD or HD-Ready TV models in 2020. Panasonic would not confirm their plans for this year but so far it seems they have no new HDTV models on offer. At the same time, 4K is moving away from the high end: This year, one year after 8K TVs commercially debuted on the market with models you could actually buy – as opposed to the prototypes we’ve been shown at CES and IFA for years – Samsung has announced it will no longer offer its most premium display features on 4K models; it reserves those for its 8K QLED TV range. 8K now represents the high end, 4K the mainstream and low end. Meanwhile, TV broadcasting has a hard time catching up, because there’s no business model that offers them any incentive to upgrade. They’ll need to replace their entire production workflow, which is expensive and something they normally do once every seven to ten years. However, even when they start producing in 4K, it’s likely too costly to distribute it in that resolution. That’s because bandwidth is scarce, especially with terrestrial broadcast, but even with DTH (direct-to-home) satellite and cable/IPTV spectrum is limited, and a 4K channel simply takes the same capacity as four HD channels, unless you overly compress it, but that would defy the whole point of Ultra HD. Meanwhile 4K doesn’t bring any additional revenues. Advertisers aren’t paying more money to advertise on 4K TV channels, and the extent to which operators can charge more for these channels is limited. As a result, for 4K content we’re dependent on streaming platforms, for which bandwidth is not an issue, at least not their issue. It’s ironic perhaps that while the overall amount of bandwidth available to us increases year over year, the bandwidth for traditional broadcasting does not, and in many cases even shrinks, where airwaves are reallocated from radio and TV to mobile data. Of course, the relevance of broadcasters does not depend mainly on the resolution they’re transmitting their content in, but this widening gap does add to the worries many of them have about staying relevant in a time where we are witnessing a shift from linear TV watching to on-demand viewing, happening right under our eyes.

WHERE BROADCAST TV IS NOW:
It’s 2020, and America’s biggest sporting event, the Super Bowl, only just now got broadcast in 4K for the first time, on selected distribution channels and, significantly, streaming platforms. It may be telling that while the production mostly was shot with HDR cameras, the base resolution was 1080p (with some 720p thrown in for good measure), and upscaled to 4K for distribution. The 2018 World Championship soccer games were shot and offered in 4K/HDR by broadcasters in some 25 countries on one-off pop-up channels, removed again as soon as the event was over. 2019 had no such major sports event, and this year we’ll have the European Championships, likely following the same patterns as the world cup two years earlier. The other main sports event this year is going to be the Olympic Games and again the prospects for 4K TV owners aren’t great, since the transmission rights in most countries are held by public broadcasters, who have even more difficulty ponying up the money needed to facilitate UHD programs than commercial ones. In another ironic twist, the 2020 Olympics take place in Tokyo, Japan – the country that’s the farthest advanced with 8K production. The 8K feed is expected to be available only domestically, but in Japan the market penetration of 8K TVs is going to be lower yet than in North America and even Europe. That’s because Japanese living rooms are typically much smaller than American ones, and TV sizes are proportionally smaller (and resolutions accordingly lower).

WILL BROADCAST TV EVER CATCH UP:
Will broadcasters ever catch up with the resolutions consumer TVs have arrived at, or should we accept that there will forever be a discrepancy between the capabilities of the displays we’re watching and the content we’re viewing on it? Given the economic realities of the TV business, probably the latter. This is not a new phenomenon however. Even as HDTV hardware had attained dominance over SDTV in the market, most channels were still in HD. It’s just that the gap is getting wider. Someone watching the local news on a high-end TV in 2020 may very well be looking at an SD signal upscaled for an 8K display. That will not look great. Whether it’s acceptable depends on how critical the consumer is, and on how compelling the content.

BBC REGIONAL NEWS BREAK IS STILL BROADCAST ONLY IN SD. (SOURCE: INFORMITV)


THE HDR ALTERNATIVE:
One way for broadcasters to catch up with the TV hardware evolution is to start transmitting programs in HDR. According to the Ultra HD Forum, 1080p HD with HDR also qualifies as Ultra HD and frankly, improved dynamic range contributes more to picture quality than increased spatial resolution. It takes only a modest amount of extra bandwidth – between 0% and about 25% over an SDR channel, depending on the HDR format used. This changes the economics drastically. To what extent broadcasters will need to overhaul their production workflow again depends a lot on what HDR format they choose. More about that in a future article. We seem to have reached an inflection point. What it means for TV hardware and broadcast business only time will tell.

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Improved Offline Publishing.

The path to a better offline experience in our mobile apps.

Date: January 30, 2020

Written by: diegoreymendez

The best technology is invisible and reliable. You almost forget it’s there, because things just work. Bad technology never disappears into the background — it’s always visible, and worse, it gets in your way. We rarely stop to think “My, what good Wifi!” But we sure notice when the Wifi is iffy.

Good technology in an app requires solid offline support. A WordPress app should give you a seamless, reliable posting experience, and you shouldn’t have to worry whether you’re online or offline while using WordPress Mobile. And if we’ve done our jobs right, you won’t have to! 

We all need fewer worries in life, so if you haven’t already head to https://apps.wordpress.com/get/ to download the apps.

Offline Publishing:

On the go and without a connection?  No worries! The apps will now remember your choices and once you’re back online,your content will be saved and published as requested.  But if you changed your mind about publishing a post while you’re still offline, you can still safely cancel it.

The New Offline Publishing Flow.

This improved publishing flow comes together with a revamped UI for yourf post status.  You’ll be able to clearly see which posts are pending, saving or publishing.

Smoother Messaging:

We removed several alerts that were being presented while you were offline.  These blocking alerts required you to take action but often provided no insights on either what the problem was, or how to resolve it.

They have been replaced with contextual non-blocking messages both within the UI, and in notices appearingright above the toolbar.

As a result, you’ll see less disruptive and uninformative alerts, and more inline and informative messages, such as the one shown above.

Safeguards:

We also added some safeguards to ensure there are no surprises!

You Can Cancel Offline Publishing.

Modifying posts that are scheduled for publishing will cancel the publishing action. Don’t worry, though – you can always reschedule the post for publishing.

All queued save and publishing operations will be canceled if your device stays offline for more than 48 hours.  We want you to be in complete control of what gets published and when.

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What is Dolby Vision? The dynamic HDR Format Fully Explained

Written By: Simon Cohen

Date: January 11, 2020

what is dolby vision hdr for tvs 2
DOLBY VISION

Of all the new TV technologies to emerge over the last few years, it’s arguable that none has had as big an impact on overall picture quality as High Dynamic Range, or HDR. When properly implemented, HDR can make a huge difference in perceived picture quality. We think it has been more impactful than the move from Full HD (1080p) to 4K Ultra HD or even 8K resolution.

But not all HDR is created equal; in fact, HDR is a catch-all term that refers to several distinct and competitive technologies. The one with the biggest brand recognition is Dolby Vision. Dolby Labs has done such a good job of marketing Dolby Vision as its own platform, many consumers aren’t even aware that it’s an HDR format.  That shouldn’t be a surprise: TVs that have Dolby Vision technology, are often labeled as “4K HDR TV with Dolby Vision” making it seem as though the two terms aren’t related.

But what is Dolby Vision? How is it different than other HDR formats? And more importantly, how can you get it at home? We have all the answers right here.

What is HDR?

Before we get into Dolby Vision specifically, let’s quickly recap HDR in general. High Dynamic Range is a technology that lets filmmakers and content creators produce videos with increased brightness, greater color accuracy, and better contrast than what was previously possible. While HDR is often utilized in high-quality theaters, it has also become increasingly popular for home viewing. When HDR content is viewed on a quality HDR-compatible TV, you can tell right away — the increase in overall picture quality is dramatic, offering a touch of cinematic quality on the small screen.

There are five major HDR formats to discuss for home use: Two static formats and three dynamic ones. The two static formats are HDR10, the version that every HDR-capable TV supports, and HLG, a version designed for broadcast applications. Static in this case means that the data required to show HDR content is determined once based on the entire movie or TV show. Once the video starts to play, that information doesn’t change.

The three dynamic formats include Advanced HDR by Technicolor, and two much more commonly known formats for the home: HDR10+, a license-free format developed in part by Samsung, and Dolby Vision. Unlike static formats, dynamic formats can adapt as you watch, boosting or reducing HDR elements based on each scene, down to a frame-by-frame level of detail. It takes way more data to do HDR this way, but experts agree: Being able to fine-tune color, contrast, and brightness for each scene can have a big impact on HDR quality.

So What’s so Special About Dolby Vision?

what is dolby vision hdr for tvs

As touched on above, Dolby Vision is a proprietary, dynamic HDR format developed by Dolby Labs. By adjusting the picture on a scene-by-scene (and even frame-by-frame) basis, it lets you see more detail with better color accuracy. It is constantly making adjustments so that each image on the screen is optimized. But there’s more to it than that.

In addition to the ability for content creators to tweak picture settings at a highly granular level, Dolby Vision supports a much wider range of possible settings than the more conventional (and static) HDR10. For instance, HDR10 supports a maximum picture brightness of 1,000 nits for TVs. Dolby Vision can go much brighter — up to 10,000 nits.

The same is true for color accuracy. HDR10 lets content creators specify color using 10 bits of data, whereas Dolby Vision supports up to 12 bits. That spec might not seem like a big deal — after all, that’s only a difference of 2 bits — but it makes a huge difference. With 10 bits, you can pick from amongst 1,024 shades of each primary color, which gives you over a billion total possible colors. Again, that sounds huge until you realize that 12 bits give you 4,096 shades and a total of over 68 billion colors.

If that sounds like overkill, when it comes to your TV, it is. For the moment, there are no TVs you can buy that are capable of displaying 10,000 nits of brightness or the 68 billion colors that Dolby Vision provides. Even the brightest TVs on the market tend to max out at 2,000 nits of brightness, and not even LG’s newest 8K OLED TV offers better than 10-bit color support. That said, TV technology is advancing very rapidly so Dolby Vision’s current above-and-beyond specs may seem perfectly reasonable in another five years.

What about HDR10+?

The Samsung-backed HDR10+ format is similar to Dolby Vision in that it’s also a dynamic format that can optimize on-screen images on a scene-by-scene basis. It has support for higher brightness and color-depth than the HDR10, but it doesn’t quite go as far as Dolby Vision in its specifications. In theory, this means that you’ll get better results with Dolby Vision, but for now, the biggest difference between the two standards is availability.

Few devices currently support HDR10+ and even fewer sources of content are available in HDR10+, though this is beginning to change. In time, thanks to the free licensing of the HDR10+ standard, we could see the tables turn. If you’re wondering about future support for these competing formats, here’s something to keep in mind: Any device that currently supports Dolby Vision ought to be able to support HDR10+ too, via a firmware upgrade. Moreover, there would be little cost to manufacturers that chose to do this. The same is not true for Dolby Vision, which adds a licensing cost in addition to the cost of developing the firmware itself.

Which TVs support Dolby Vision?

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While Dolby Vision is more prominent than HDR10+, not all new TVs are Dolby Vision-compatible. One prominent brand that does not support it is Samsung, which is all in on HDR10+.

Major brands that offer Dolby Vision include LG, TCL, Vizio, and Sony, but Dolby Vision support can vary from model to model. Before you buy, make sure to read the full specs for the model you’re considering. If it works with Dolby Vision it will likely say so and usually quite prominently.

What else do I need for Dolby Vision?

what is dolby vision hdr for tvs netflix

A Source of Dolby Vision Video:

In addition to having a Dolby Vision-compatible TV (or other devices — some smartphones and tablets are now Dolby Vision-compatible), you’ll need a source of Dolby Vision video. Lots of 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays support Dolby Vision, and video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video offer a good selection of both Hollywood movies and original series in the format. Disney+ and Apple TV+ both have deep support for Dolby Vision as well as Dolby Atmos — the company’s popular surround-sound audio format. Where you won’t find Dolby Vision is broadcast TV. For the moment, HDR content from over-the-air channels is rare, and when it’s available it uses either HDR10 or HLG due to the lower bandwidth requirements of these HDR formats.

Amazon Fire TV Streaming Stick 4K
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

A Dolby Vision Capable Device:

If you use a set-top box, game console, or Blu-ray player for your streaming video content, it also needs to be Dolby Vision-compatible — not all of them are. Roku streaming devices like the Roku Streaming Stick+, for instance, only support HDR10. By contrast, some Roku TVs, like those made by TCL, do support Dolby Vision. The Apple TV 4K supports Dolby Vision, but the Apple TV HD doesn’t. Amazon’s 4K Fire TV Stick is one of the few devices that supports all four of the top HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision.

Nvidia’s older Shield TV streamers don’t support it, but the 2019 Nvidia Shield TV and Shield TV Pro do. Microsoft’s Xbox One S and One X have supported Dolby Vision since 2018, but you won’t find it on the basic Xbox One. Sony’s PlayStations do not support Dolby Vision. Again, it pays to do your research.

Finally, if your chosen Dolby Vision device requires an HDMI cable (instead of the dongle-style that plugs directly into a TV) make sure you buy an HDMI cable that is guaranteed to be compatible with Dolby Vision. Any cable that bears the “HDMI Premium Certified” label is ideal. Cables that are rated for lesser speeds may work, but be prepared in the event that they don’t. The good news is that you can buy Premium Certified HDMI cables for less than the price of an IMAX movie ticket.

A FEW GOTCHAS:

Sometimes, even when you do everything right, things still don’t work as planned. We have found instances where even if you have a Dolby Vision source, playback device, and TV, you still don’t get Dolby Vision. One recent example comes from Disney+ where some viewers were surprised to learn that despite having a fully compatible setup, they still weren’t getting Dolby Vision on their Xbox consoles. The reason? The Xbox Disney+ app doesn’t yet support Dolby Vision even though many titles on the service are labeled Dolby Vision.

Another issue you may have heard about also relates to Dolby Vision and Disney+. Some experts have taken issue with how The Mandalorian — an exclusive Disney+ streaming show presented in Dolby Vision — looks. They say it looks too dark, and that even the brightest on-screen moments aren’t as bright as they expect from a Dolby Vision title. Are they right?

As it turns out, yes and no. Yes, The Mandalorian looks dark. But it’s not the fault of Dolby Vision or Disney+’s handling of Dolby Vision. Instead, the show’s creators made a choice during the production process to scale back on the brightness that Dolby Vision allows, in order to infuse the scenes with a more somber tone. The key here is this: Just because a movie or show is available in Dolby Vision, it doesn’t mean you’ll experience every possible color from the Dolby Vision palette, or have your eyeballs seared by the format’s huge brightness capabilities.

Creators will still choose to use Dolby Vision to express their creative intent, and sometimes that might mean a more subdued approach.

What about Dolby Vision IQ?

dolby vision iq hdr tv light sensors ces 2020

At CES 2020, Dolby Labs debuted a new video technology called Dolby Vision IQ. You can think of it as an enhancement to Dolby Vision: Using light sensors built into new Dolby Vision IQ-enabled TVs, the software can optimize Dolby Vision content based on the ambient light in your room. In this way, Dolby Vision becomes even more dynamic: It changes the additional color and contrast info on a scene by scene basis and then changes it again based on your viewing conditions. At the moment, only LG and Panasonic support Dolby Vision IQ, but more manufacturers are expected soon.

So there you have it — Dolby Vision fully explained. As the HDR landscape shifts over time, we’ll be updating this article to reflect the latest changes, equipment, and support.

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com

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The Innovative Zephyrus G14 Brings Incredible Power to a 14-inch Form Factor.

After setting the bar for ultra-slim gaming laptops with the original ROG Zephyrus, our engineers continue to redefine what’s possible in the category. The latest example of their boundary-breaking spirit debuts at CES 2020 in the new Zephyrus G14, which puts unprecedented power in a 14-inch form factor that’s portable enough to go anywhere and priced to bring premium gaming to everyone.

Cutting-edge components will take you most of the way to an amazing gaming experience, but the real challenge is getting them to work together in such a small machine. Despite a compact chassis that’s under 20mm thin, the Zephyrus G14 pairs exclusive 4th generation AMD® Ryzen™ CPUs with up to an NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX™ 2060 GPU. Carefully customized cooling ensures these processors perform at their best, and you can optimize for gaming or creative pursuits with a choice between high refresh and high resolution displays, both with Pantone® Validated colors and Adaptive Sync variable refresh rate technology.

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ROG Zephyrus

More than 10 hours of battery life and the ability to charge from compatible Type-C power packs, the G14 gives you the freedom to roam. Subtle styling in Moonlight White or Eclipse Gray moves seamlessly between personal and professional lives, accentuating a versatile design filled with thoughtful upgrades that enhance everyday use. When it’s time to be seen, you can light up the optional AniMe Matrix™ display to show custom graphics, animations, and other effects across over a thousand mini LEDs embedded in the lid.

The Zephyrus G14 is intelligently equipped to fit into your lifestyle, bridging creativity and play, school and work, at home and on the road. It makes gaming more accessible and portable without compromising the experience or diluting ROG DNA.

Small size with big impact:

Packed into a much smaller footprint than 15-inch alternatives, the G14 easily slips into conventional laptop bags and backpacks. The system is only 17.9mm thin and 1.6kg without the custom LED matrix. Shrinking such a powerful laptop down to this size requires careful attention in every category.

Super-svelte chassis can sometimes feel flimsy and cheap, so our designers bolstered the palm rests with honeycomb reinforcements that add strength with minimal material. The magnesium-aluminum alloy deck is forged and machined for a perfect fit, then finished to resist fingerprints for a fresher look day to day. High strength and low weight also make magnesium alloy ideal for the lid, whose distinctive dot matrix design is produced by a CNC milling process that puts 6,536 precise perforations in the exterior panel.

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Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

The understated take on the ROG slash appears on every Zephyrus G14, but it really comes to life with the AniMe Matrix display available on select models. This bold step forward for personalization spreads 1,215 mini LEDs across the lid, letting you fully express your individuality and creativity. Each LED emits a tasteful white glow with 256 levels of brightness control.

The monochrome palette and pixelated pattern have a deliberately retro feel with surprising flexibility. You can import animated GIFs and other graphics, build custom animations frame by frame, and type text messages with different fonts. Visualizations react to music and other audio, creating a unique platform for DJs and other artists. An upcoming update will enable system functions that show new email notifications in addition to the date, time, and battery level. Mix multiple types of content for an even more custom look.

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Asus Zephyrus G14

Perfecting the AniMe Matrix display was one of the most difficult parts of the G14 project. We went through 15 iterations just for the mask that evenly distributes light from each LED, added a diffusing layer to soften the glow, and experimented with different diameters to find just the right size for the tiny openings in the lid. Alignment has to be perfect to get the ideal effect, especially since the individual lights are rectangular rather than square. We also had to carefully balance the number of mini LEDs to minimize heat, controller hardware, and power requirements. The patented design is a testament to our innovative spirit.

Powerful graphics for serious gaming:

Stunning looks on the outside deserve great graphics on the inside. Pumping out fluid frame rates in popular games requires a potent GPU, so the Zephyrus G14 comes with up to a GeForce RTX 2060 augmented by ROG Boost up to 1298MHz at 65W. The discrete GPU is based on the latest NVIDIA Turing architecture, which melds dedicated cores for programmable shading, real-time ray tracing, and artificial intelligence. This combination enables improved lighting, shadows, and other in-game effects, and it also offers a diverse array of compute resources for accelerating demanding workloads like content creation, 3D modeling, and deep learning.

Turing’s dedicated video encoder is largely responsible for the G14’s ability to game and stream simultaneously. The specialized hardware allows higher stream quality with minimal performance impact, and it’s compatible with Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), a popular capture tool among burgeoning creators and aspiring Twitch streamers.

Choose high refresh or high resolution:

The display controls how many frames per second reach your eyes, and it’s often compromised in smaller laptops. With the G14, we provide a choice between two premium panels tailored for different needs. You can select a faster Full HD display that goes up to 120Hz or opt for a higher WQHD resolution.

Smaller laptop screens aren’t usually available with higher refresh rates, but being able to see more FPS is so important for gaming that we worked with one of our panel providers to create a new 14-inch display capable of keeping up. The 120Hz panel doubles the speed of typical laptop displays, making high-intensity action much smoother.

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ROG Zephyrus G14

Adaptive Sync variable refresh rate technology adds another level of smoothness and immersion by closely coordinating frame delivery between the GPU and display. Game performance varies constantly depending on what you’re playing and what’s happening in the scene. Most displays refresh at a consistent rate, which creates problems when new frames aren’t ready at the right time. Adaptive Sync synchronizes the refresh rate of the display with the frame rate of the GPU to eliminate visual tearing that can ruin immersion, and it also minimizes stuttering and input lag that can hinder your game.

Adaptive Sync support extends to the WQHD display, and it can be even more effective at the lower potential FPS associated with the higher resolution. The extra pixels are primed for creators who want to see more detail in their work, but they also appeal to gamers who prefer taking in their surroundings at a slower pace. Thanks to smaller dimensions, the WQHD panel has a higher pixel density than typical 4K desktop monitors. Even the Full HD panel matches the PPI of a 28-inch Ultra HD display.

Both displays are factory calibrated and Pantone Validated to ensure creators get the color accuracy they crave. The IPS-type panels have wide viewing angles and cover 100% of the sRGB range. They’re framed by exceptionally thin bezels, creating an 85% screen-to-body ratio that makes these screens feel larger and more engrossing no matter what you’re creating, watching, or playing.

Nonstop speed:

Our work with AMD to bring previous-gen Ryzen processors to the 15-inch Zephyrus G GA502 spawned a new breed of slim gaming laptops priced to bring gaming to a wider audience. For the G14, we collaborated more closely to create a series tuned specifically for the smaller chassis. The fastest 4th Gen Ryzen Mobile CPUs have power envelopes extending up to 45W, but we worked with AMD to tune those chips for the G14’s unique form factor and cooling capabilities, resulting in a special 35W variation based on the same silicon. The chips retain up to 8 cores and 16 threads to blast through your most demanding workloads, but they dial back the clocks slightly to make thermals more manageable. There’s still ample muscle for demanding applications like video editing and 3D rendering, and for heavy multitasking like mixing gaming with streaming, recording, and chats.

Cutting-edge 7nm fabrication technology helps condense so much power into a small and efficient package. The Zephyrus G14 lets you tackle a huge range of everyday tasks on the road, without fretting over where to find the nearest power outlet.

With up to 32GB of fast DDR4-3200 RAM across dual channels, you can do it all at the same time and have enough headroom for bigger projects. There’s loads of wicked-fast storage supplied by an NVMe SSD with up to 1TB of capacity, meaning minimal load times for all your favorite games and apps.

One of a kind cool:

Ultraslim chassis already leave little room for airflow, and a smaller footprint makes the G14 even harder to keep cool, but our thermal engineers made the right adjustments. They developed an exclusive feature that dynamically adjusts the power available to the CPU based on the GPU temperatures. It can make changes every second to react to spikes in GPU utilization, ensuring optimal gaming performance for the conditions.

This is the first ROG laptop to feature an ErgoLift hinge that tilts the keyboard at a more comfortable angle. The bottom of the display lifts the back of the machine when you open the lid, giving the vents in the base more room to breathe. The design hides part of the lower bezel, too, but in doing so it can impede airflow from the rear exhaust ports. We cut vents into the bezel and widened the distance to rear heatsinks to compensate. It’s a delicate balance, because making the gap larger increases the depth of the chassis and also makes the hinge more susceptible to downward pressure, requiring a stiffer spring.

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The Zephyrus G14

The rear exhausts and heatsink fins are shaped to direct air both up, away from the bezel, and down, towards the vents cut into it. Two more outlets line the flanks, and all four of them are filled with ultra-thin copper fins as slim as 0.15mm. The slender profile allows both higher density and lower air resistance than typical fins that are twice as thick. There are 209 heatsink fins totaling 68,868mm2 of surface area, comparison with 15”. They dissipate thermal energy from a network of five heatpipes that cover the CPU, GPU, and VRM responsible for powering them.

Dust and other particles inevitably get sucked into laptop fans, but our self-cleaning cooling system helps to avoid accumulation that can compromise performance and stability over time. It uses anti-dust tunnels to catch particles and direct them out the back of the chassis. They take space away from the fan, and the G14 doesn’t have a millimeter to spare, so we shortened the tunnels to make room for the same size of fan used in the 15” Zephyrus models. This custom design offers higher airflow while retaining good dust ejection, striking a better balance for this size of machine.

Even our n-Blade fans are tweaked to optimize acoustics in the super small chassis. They’re made of a special liquid crystal polymer that lets the incredibly thin blades hold their shape at high RPMs. Instead of using 83 identical blades like our existing fans, the Zephyrus G14 alternates between 81 blades that are 50mm and 51.2mm long. The uneven outer edge reduces noise caused by turbulence but doesn’t adversely affect airflow.

Fan speeds are controlled by an intelligent algorithm that responds automatically to temperature changes. Three expertly tuned operating modes let you quickly adapt to different scenarios using a convenient keyboard shortcut, while Scenario Profiles seamlessly switch between modes based on your preferences for individual games and applications. With the highest fan speed and frequencies, Turbo mode is the best for maximum performance. Performance mode strikes a better balance for gaming, while Silent mode goes further to reduce acoustics for lighter work and entertainment.

Top off with Type-C charging:

ROG created the first gaming laptop capable of being powered by DC or USB-C input, and the technology is a perfect fit for the mobile Zephyrus G14. With support for USB Power Delivery, it can handle lighter work powered by up to a 65W Type-C adapter that’s much smaller than the 180W unit required to unleash the discrete GPU. Use a USB-C adapter to lighten your load on the road or around town. When it’s time to plug in and fully recharge the G14, fast-charging support reverses the direction of the flow, using up to 3A to quickly rejuvenate smartphones and other devices.

If the battery runs low and you can’t stop to charge or even find a free wall socket, you can buy precious time with a compatible Type-C power pack.

Flexible options on the go:

The Type-C port with USB Power Delivery is also capable of driving an external monitor via DisplayPort 1.4. Add HDMI 2.0b, and you can power everything from a classroom projector to a slick workstation with dual 4K displays. There’s plenty of connectivity for external devices through a secondary Type-C port focused on USB functionality, plus two Type-A ports for additional gear like a mouse, gamepad, and thumb drive. No dongles needed.

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Zephyrus G14

The Zephyrus G14 amps up wireless networking with Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) connectivity, also known as 802.11ax. When paired with a compatible router, Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) boosts peak interface bandwidth up to 2.4Gbps, and improves efficiency for crowded spaces like coffee shops and libraries. It also reduces latency, meaning less lag for sensitive activities like online gaming, and expands upstream capacity, which provides more bandwidth for live-streaming.

Keyboard enhancements go beyond ErgoLift to improve your everyday routine. The G14 is the first ROG laptop to integrate fingerprint login into the power button. A single press wakes the machine and briefly caches your fingerprint, saving it to authenticate when Windows is ready to log in. On machines with multiple users, the OS automatically detects the right account.

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Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

Despite smaller chassis dimensions, the keyboard takes cues from larger Zephyrus gaming laptops. Key switches with ROG Overstroke technology actuate earlier in the stroke for quicker, more responsive input, while N-key rollover ensures that every press registers, even when you’re mashing multiple keys at once. Even the shape and placement of the keys is geared toward accuracy and convenience. Fire off function commands intuitively thanks to spacing that mimics desktop layouts, and access essentials like volume and mic mute instantly with dedicated hotkeys.

Immerse yourself in sound:

Multidimensional sound brings greater depth and direction to all a wide range of audio experiences, and it can even provide a competitive advantage in games. In the Zephyrus G14, Dolby Atmos technology enhances spatial immersion with virtual surround sound for both headphones and speakers.

The Dolby algorithms are also optimized to maximize loudness and fidelity for the G14’s integrated speakers. Two tweeters positioned above the keyboard fire high-frequency sounds directly at you, while two woofers beneath them offer deep bass amplified by the ErgoLift design. This quad-speaker setup delivers perfectly balanced audio across the spectrum. You can pump up the volume on movies, music, and games without losing clarity or detail.

 ROG Zephyrus G14
ProcessorUp to AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS
Display14″ 120Hz FHD IPS-level panel with Adaptive Sync technology
14″ 60Hz WQHD IPS-level panel with Adaptive Sync technology
14″ 60Hz FHD IPS-level panel with Adaptive Sync technology
GraphicsUp to NVIDIA® GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6
MemoryUp to 32 GB DDR4 3200MHz
StorageUp to 1 TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD
WirelessIntel WiFi 6 (802.11ax)
Bluetooth 5.0
Connectivity1 x USB3.2 Gen2 Type-C (DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery)
1 x USB3.2 Gen2 Type-C
2x USB3.2 Gen1 Type-A
1x HDMI 2.0b
1x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack
KeyboardBacklit Chiclet Keyboard, N-key support, 1.7mm travel distance, 4 Hotkeys, Golden Curve, Power key with Fingerprint
Audio2x 2.5W speakers with Smart AMP technology
2x 0.7W tweeter, Array Microphone
AC Adapter180 W AC Adapter
OSWindows 10 Pro
Windows 10 Home
Size324 x 222 x 17.9 mm
Weight1.6 kg
ROG Zephyrus G14

Meet the next game changer

Little details and big ideas put the Zephyrus G14 in a class of its own. No other 14-inch laptop offers comparable power in such a slim package, especially at an affordable price. This new addition to the Zephyrus family raises expectations for what’s possible in such a portable form factor, and brings an exhilarating gaming experience to a versatile laptop made for everyone.

The Zephyrus G14 will be available starting in the first quarter of 2020, and you can see it on display at our CES 2020 showcase, located at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort and Casino. For a media tour, or for more details on configurations, availability, and pricing in your region, contact your local ROG representative.

Seagate Launches a Fast PCIe Gen4 SSD and an Expandable Storage Dock for Gamers

Written By Paul Lilly 

Date: November 12, 2019

Another blazing fast SSD that leverages the PCI Express 4.0 bus.

Seagate FireCuda 520 SSD
Image Credits Seagate

Seagate is expanding its storage lineup with a couple of products it’s marketing toward gamers. One is a new generation FireCuda 520 SSD, and the other is the other is a FireCuda Gaming Dock.

Starting with the former, the FireCuda 520 SSD is one of a handful of drives that leverages the PCI Express 4.0 bus for incredibly fast read and write speeds. For sequential reads, it tops out at 5,000MB/s, which is par for course among current PCIe 4.0 SSDs. And for sequential writes, it’s rated to deliver up to 4,400MB/s. (The maximum throughput of an x4 Gen4 link is around 8,000MB/s, so we’re still not hitting that bottleneck at least.)

Seagate is offering the FireCuda 520 SSD in three capacities, those being 2TB ($429.99), 1TB ($249.99), and 500GB ($124.99), available now at places like Amazon. They’re backed by five-year warranties.

While Seagate is taking direct aim at gamers, the truth is, the best SSD for gaming is not a PCIe 4.0 drive when factoring in bang-for-buck (especially with Black Friday deals around the bend). It doesn’t even have to be an NVMe drive at all—even some SATA 6Gbps drives are just fine for a gaming PC.

Regardless, on paper, the FireCuda 520 series is extremely fast. In order to tap into that speed, you’ll need a motherboard that supports PCIe 4.0, and so far only AMD’s X570 offerings fit the mold (in the consumer space). So, it’s third gen Ryzen or bust if you want to fully utilize these kinds of drives. You can still install them on PCIe 3.0 motherboards, just the top-end speed will not be quite as high.


Segate’s other new storage offering is its FireCuda Gaming Dock. It’s essentially an external storage device with a built-in 4TB hard drive, and a PCIe Gen 3 slot for optional higher speed expansion—you can add an M.2 form factor SSD.

The dock connects to PCs via Thunderbolt 3. It also includes a spattering of other ports, including a Thunderbolt 3 accessory port, a DisplayPort 1.4 connector, a GbE LAN port, two 3.5mm jacks (audio-in/mic-out and audio-out), four USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, and a USB 3.1 Gen 2 charging port. And of course it lights up.

Seagate has priced  the dock at $349.99 and says it will be available later this month. It’s backed by a three-year warranty.

Written By Paul Lilly

Date: November 12, 2019

Source: https://www.pcgamer.com

Getting More Views and More Traffic.

One of the most frequent questions our community members ask us and themselves is how to get more people to visit their site. There’s no magic formula, but there are ways to increase your website traffic with a few WordPress.com tools and best practices.

Help search engines find your website:

If you want your content to be indexed by search engines such as Google and Bing, set your privacy settings to make your site visible to all search engines.

While we take care of a lot of the Search Engine Optimization for you, you can also verify your site through several search engines.

Plus, if your business has a niche, you can tell the Google Search Console to help you position your site to be even more successful in search rankings. We’ll show you how using Webmaster Tools!

google
Google Search Engine
Bing
Bing Search Engine
Pinterest
The Pinterest Website
Yandex
Yandex Search Engine

Blog regularly:

The internet is full of theories as to how you can raise your post’s visibility in search rankings: none will contest that original, high quality content with a few well-chosen tags is the best way to get started.

Blogs that have more frequent and regular posting schedules tend to develop an audience quicker. If you need inspiration, check out resources like these how-tos on editorial calendars or serial posts.

Blogging isn’t just for hobbyists. Businesses, organizations, and professionals can blog to boost their site’s traffic and get noticed. In fact, blogging regularly is still the single most important thing you can do to increase your site’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

People with a WordPress.com Business plan can also use Advanced SEO tools to customize the meta description with a summary that does a better job at captivating readers and potentially increase the post’s search page ranking.

Even if you have a website with mostly static content, add a “Blog” or “News” section that you regularly update so search engines can see that your site is active. All the SEO strategies in the world won’t help if you’re not adding content, so get to writing!

Use keywords on your website:

Make sure your site is well indexed by search engines by using keywords in your site’s tagline, in your website content, and in tags. Keywords are terms that your target audience might use when searching for your site. To figure out what keywords to include on your site, think about what you would search for if you were trying to find that information. If you sell toys and games to play with toddlers, for example, it would be a good idea to use the term “games for toddlers” in your pages and blog posts.

Be careful about using too many keywords, though! If you repeat the same keywords multiple times, your content will read awkwardly — and worse, search engines like Google will consider that “keyword stuffing,” so doing this can actually hurt your site’s ranking.

Use appropriate tags:

Attach appropriate categories and tags to your posts so people can find them in the WordPress.com Reader. But be careful not to use too many tags — less than 15 tags (or categories or both) is a good number. The more tags you use, the less likely your post will be featured in the Reader. Read more on tagging.

Connect to the community and spread the word:

Build your traffic in smart ways. SEO and traffic go hand-in-hand: the more people who visit your site, the higher your site will rank in search results. Luckily, WordPress.com is a community in addition to a website building platform, so we have lots of ways to increase your readership.

Read and comment on other blogs:

Check out Discover to find great blogs and websites on your interests. Then, subscribe to these sites and get to know them a bit. When you read a post that moves you in some way, leave a comment. Read more on comments and creating online conversations.

Blogging is all about engaging with others and interacting in online discussions. When you link to a blog post, the blogger will likely find your blog through their stats or a pingback, and come to see what you had to say. They may even subscribe to your site and leave a comment, as we suggested you do above!

Share on social media:

Use features like Publicize to alert your various social networks to your new content. Set it up to automatically share your new blog posts to Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, so your current customers and fans never miss an update.

If you have a Premium or Business plan, you can also use the Publicize feature to re-share your content an unlimited number of times. You can find more ideas in our Social Tools support pages.

Bug your real life friends:

Encourage friends and family to read your blog: send them reminder emails when you update and talk to them about it when you meet in person. Better still, encourage them to sign up for updates using the Follow Blog Widget. Having a small audience of people you care about is better than having a million visitors and not knowing any of them.

Let people know about your posts:

If you’ve written a post with someone in mind, drop them a short email with a link to it.

Relax, it takes time:

Even if you do all of the above, you won’t develop a huge following overnight. Building a sizable audience of engaged and loyal readers takes time. Many of the bloggers you admire have likely been at it for years. Stick with it, and don’t get discouraged by a slow start.

If you’re interested in learning the ins and outs of blogging, take a free course at Blogging U. Blogging 201: Branding and Growth is a two week course focused on growing your blog and online presence.

Source: https://en.support.wordpress.com/getting-more-views-and-traffic

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25 Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Website

Written by: Dan Shewan

Dated: November 5, 2019

Ask a marketer or business owner what they’d like most in the world, and they’ll probably tell you “more customers.” What often comes after customers on a business’ wish list? More traffic to their site. There are many ways you can increase traffic on your website, and in today’s post, we’re going to look at 25 of them, including several ways to boost site traffic for free.

Increase traffic to your website lonely road
Ways to Boost Site Traffic for Free

1. Advertise:

This one is so obvious, we’re going to look at it first. Paid search, social mediaadvertising and display advertising are all excellent ways of attracting visitors, building your brand and getting your site in front of people. Adjust your paid strategies to suit your goals – do you just want more traffic, or are you looking to increase conversions, too? Each paid channel has its pros and cons, so think carefully about your objectives before you reach for your credit card.

If you’re hoping that more traffic to your site will also result in more sales, you’ll need to target high commercial intent keywords as part of your paid search strategies. Yes, competition for these search terms can be fierce (and expensive), but the payoffs can be worth it.

2. Get social:

It’s not enough to produce great content and hope that people find it – you have to be proactive. One of the best ways to increase traffic to your website is to use social media channels to promote your content. Twitter is ideal for short, snappy (and tempting) links, whereas Google+ promotion can help your site show up in personalized search results and seems especially effective in B2B niches. If you’re a B2C product company, you might find great traction with image-heavy social sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Here’s more advice on making the most of social media marketing.

Increase traffic to your website social media icons
Image via Pascale Communications

3. Mix it up:

There is no magic formula for content marketing success, despite what some would have you believe. For this reason, vary the length and format of your content to make it as appealing as possible to different kinds of readers. Intersperse shorter, news-based blog posts with long-form content as well as video, infographics and data-driven pieces for maximum impact.

4. Write irresistible headlines:

Headlines are one of the most important parts of your content. Without a compelling headline, even the most comprehensive blog post will go unread. Master the art of headline writing. For example, the writers at BuzzFeed and Upworthy often write upward of twenty different headlines before finally settling on the one that will drive the most traffic, so think carefully about your headline before you hit “publish.”

5. Pay attention to on-page seo:

Think SEO is dead? Think again. Optimizing your content for search engines is still a valuable and worthwhile practice. Are you making the most of image alt text? Are you creating internal links to new content? What about meta descriptions? Optimizing for on-page SEO doesn’t have to take ages, and it could help boost your organic traffic.

6. Target long-tail keywords:

Got your high-intent keyword and popular keyword bases covered? Then it’s time to target long-tailkeywords, too. Long-tail keywords account for a majority of web searches, meaning that if you’re not targeting them as part of your paid search or SEO efforts, you’re missing out.

Increase traffic to your website reptile with long tail
Image via thegardensofeden.org

7. Start guest blogging:

Before you say it – no, true guest blogging isn’t dead, despite what you may have heard. Securing a guest post on a reputable site can increase blog traffic to your website and help build your brand into the bargain. Be warned, though – standards for guest blogging have changed radically during the past eighteen months, and spammy tactics could result in stiff penalties. Proceed with caution.

8. Invite others to guest blog on your site:

Guest blogging is a two-way street. In addition to posting content to other blogs, invite people in your niche to blog on your own site. They’re likely to share and link to their guest article, which could bring new readers to your site. Just be sure that you only post high-quality, original content without spammy links, because Google is cracking way down on low-quality guest blogging.

9. Go after referral traffic:

Rather than trying to persuade other sites to link back to you (a tedious and time-intensive process), create content that just begs to be linked to.

When Larry wrote about the kick in the proverbial teeth that eBay took from Google’s Panda update, we managed to secure a link from Ars Technica in the Editor’s Pick section alongside links to The New York Times and National Geographic. Not too shabby – and neither was the resulting spike in referral traffic. Learn what types of links send lots of referral traffic, and how to get them, in this post.

Increase traffic to your website referral link analytics data

10. Post content to linkedin:

LinkedIn has become much more than a means of finding another job. The world’s largest professional social network is now a valuable publishing platform in its own right, which means you should be posting content to LinkedIn on a regular basis. Doing so can boost traffic to your site, as well as increase your profile within your industry – especially if you have a moderate to large following.

Increase traffic to your website Larry Kim LinkedIn profile

11. Implement schema microdata:

Implementing schema (or another microdata format) won’t necessarily increase traffic to your website on its own, but it will make it easier for search engine bots to find and index your pages. Another benefit of using schema for SEO is that it can result in better rich site snippets, which can improve click-through rates.

12. Link internally:

The strength of your link profile isn’t solely determined by how many sites link back to you – it can also be affected by your internal linking structure. When creating and publishing content, be sure to keep an eye out for opportunities for internal links. This not only helps with SEO, but also results in a better, more useful experience for the user – the cornerstone of increasing traffic to your website.

13. Interview industry thought leaders:

Think interviews are only for the big leaguers? You’d be amazed how many people will be willing to talk to you if you just ask them. Send out emails requesting an interview to thought leaders in your industry, and publish the interviews on your blog. Not only will the name recognition boost your credibility and increase traffic to your website, the interviewee will probably share the content too, further expanding its reach.

Increase traffic to your website thought leadership concept
Image via business2community.com

14. Don’t neglect email marketing:

So many businesses are focused on attracting new customers through content marketing that they forget about more traditional methods. Email marketing can be a powerful tool, and even a moderately successful email blast can result in a significant uptick in traffic. Just be careful not to bombard people with relentless emails about every single update in your business. Also, don’t overlook the power of word-of-mouth marketing, especially from people who are already enjoying your products or services. A friendly email reminder about a new service or product can help you boost your traffic, too.

15. Make sure your site is responsive:

The days when internet browsing was done exclusively on desktop PCs are long gone. Today, more people than ever before are using mobile devices to access the web, and if you force your visitors to pinch and scroll their way around your site, you’re basically telling them to go elsewhere. Ensure that your website is accessible and comfortably viewable across a range of devices, including smaller smartphones.

16. Make sure your site is fast:

Ever found yourself waiting thirty seconds for a webpage to load? Me neither. If your site takes forever to load, your bounce rate will be sky high. Make sure that your pages are as technically optimized as possible, including image file sizes, page structure and the functionality of third-party plugins. The faster your site loads, the better.

Increase traffic to your website 8-bit loading bar icon

17. Foster a sense of community:

People want to speak their minds and weigh in on subjects they feel passionately about, so building a community into your site is a great way to start a conversation and increase traffic to your website. Implement a robust commenting system through third-party solutions such as Facebook comments or Disqus, or create a dedicated forum where visitors can ask questions. Don’t forget to manage your community to ensure that minimum standards of decorum are met, however.

18. Make yourself heard in comment sections:

You probably visit at least a few sites that are relevant to your business on a regular basis, so why not join the conversation? Commenting doesn’t necessarily provide an immediate boost to referral traffic right away, but making a name for yourself by providing insightful, thought-provoking comments on industry blogs and sites is a great way to get your name out there – which can subsequently result in driving more traffic to your own site. Just remember that, as with guest posting, quality and relevance are key – you should be engaging with other people in your niche, not dropping spam links on unrelated websites.

Increase traffic to your website comments section
Image via organictalks.com

19. Examine your analytics data:

Google Analytics is an invaluable source of data on just about every conceivable aspect of your site, from your most popular pages to visitor demographics. Keep a close eye on your Analytics data, and use this information to inform your promotional and content strategies. Pay attention to what posts and pages are proving the most popular. Inspect visitor data to see how, where and when your site traffic is coming from.

20. Get active on social media:

It’s not enough to just share content through social channels – you need to actively participate in the community, too. Got a Twitter account? Then join in group discussions with relevant hashtags. Is your audience leaving comments on your Facebook posts? Answer questions and engage with your readers. Nothing turns people off quicker than using social media as a broadcast channel – use social media as it was intended and actually interact with your fans.

21. Submit your content to aggregator sites:

Firstly, a disclaimer – don’t spam Reddit and other similar sites hoping to “hit the jackpot” of referral traffic, because it’s not going to happen. Members of communities like Reddit are extraordinarily savvy to spam disguised as legitimate links, but every now and again, it doesn’t hurt to submit links that these audiences will find genuinely useful. Choose a relevant subreddit, submit your content, then watch the traffic pour in.

Increase traffic to your website news aggregator sites

22. Incorporate video into your content strategy:

Text-based content is all well and good, but video can be a valuable asset in both attracting new visitors and making your site more engaging. Data shows that information retention is significantly higher for visual material than it is for text, meaning that video marketing is an excellent way to grab – and hold – your audience’s attention, and boost traffic to your website at the same time.

23. Research the competition:

If you haven’t used software like BuzzSumo to check out what your competitors are up to, you’re at a huge disadvantage. These services aggregate the social performance of specific sites and content to provide you with an at-a-glance view of what topics are resonating with readers and, most importantly, making the rounds on social media. Find out what people are reading (and talking about), and emulate that kind of content to bring traffic to your website.

Increase traffic to your website buzzsumo results page

24. Host webinars:

People love to learn, and webinars are an excellent way to impart your wisdom to your eagerly waiting audience. Combined with an effective social promotion campaign, webinars are a great way to increase traffic to your website. Send out an email a week or so ahead of time, as well as a “last chance to register” reminder the day before the webinar. Make sure to archive the presentation for later viewing, and promote your webinars widely through social media. If you’re wondering how to do a webinar, click the link for some tips.

25. Attend conferences:

Whatever industry you’re in, chances are there are at least one or two major conventions and conferences that are relevant to your business. Attending these events is a good idea – speaking at them is even better. Even a halfway decent speaking engagement is an excellent way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and gain significant exposure for your site.

Well, that just about does it for today’s post. If you’ve got your own tips for increasing traffic to your website, I’d love to hear them.

Written by: Dan Shewan

Source: https://www.wordstream.com

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Make the Most of Our New SEO Settings Panel.

Take control of your site and how it appears in search engines.

Chris S

Written by: Chris S

Date: June 2, 2016

WordPress.com has always taken care of your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) behind the scenes. Whether you have a free site or paid plan, we index your posts and pages so that the Googles and Bings of the world can easily find them. Many of you, however, have requested more hands-on control over your site’s SEO so we’re thrilled to introduce a new SEO settings panel to your dashboard.

When it comes to attracting viewers via search engines, nothing beats publishing high-quality posts on a regular basis. But there are also a number of technical settings that can have an impact, and our new panel gives you easy access to and control over these settings.

When you’re working on your site in the WordPress.com dashboard access it by going to My Sites in the top left corner of the screen, head to the settings page and you’ll see a new traffic section.

This section contains two items: Site Verification Services, and XML Sitemap. Read on to learn how they can help with your site’s visibility.

Site verification tools:

WordPress.com comes with built-in stats that give you ample information about your traffic. If you’d like even more stats, some search engines and social networks offer additional “webmaster tools” that may complement the data you see here.

We’ve made it easier for you to verify your site with several services for detailed instructions on site verification, read our step-by-step instructions. All you need to do is copy the HTML verification tag from any of the platforms listed below, and paste it into the corresponding field:

New Site Verification Tools showing the different Webmaster Tools settings.

Site Verification Tools

We currently support the following services:

XML sitemap:

XML Sitemap Link

Your site has always had an XML sitemap, but now you’re never more than a couple of seconds away from finding it!

Sitemaps are special-format pages that let search engines know what pages exist on your site and where to locate them. After you’ve verified your site using Google, Bing, or Yandex’s webmaster tools, you can submit your sitemap to those services so that search engines can easily find all the pages on your site.

Going through this step may help search engines index your site more quickly, as well as establish your authorship of original content in case your posts get syndicated or shared elsewhere on the web later on. Once you’ve added your sitemap, some of these services (including Google and Bing) will also be able to provide you with more information on your site’s performance.

Take charge:

With access to more SEO settings than ever, you have the ability to take charge of your site’s search engine success. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO on WordPress.com, visit our previous articles on the topic at The Daily Post, or check out some of the most frequently asked SEO questions.

Written by: Chris S

Source: https://en.blog.wordpress.com

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Power Users Rejoice: Youve Got SFTP And Database Access.

Three new hosting management tools give you direct access to your site’s files and data.

Date: December 18, 2019

Written by: Ian M

Written by Ian M

Three new hosting management tools give you direct access to your site’s files and data.

Have a site on a Business or eCommerce plan? Now you have three new ways to customize your WordPress.com site: SFTP access, database access, and PHP version switching give you behind-the-scenes access to the nuts and bolts of your site, which means more freedom and flexibility than ever before. If you’ve ever gotten stuck trying to modify your WordPress.com site because you couldn’t manually upload file changes or delete something from your database, website management is about to get a lot easier.

You’ll find all these features in a new section of your dashboard: Manage > Hosting Configuration.

The Hosting Configuration Screen

SFTP Credentials:

SFTP is a secure way to access the files and folders on your WordPress.com site using a program on your local computer like Filezilla. Some custom plugins and themes ask you to create specific folders or add files via SFTP. While many of those tasks can be accomplished with tools already built into your WordPress.com dashboard, folks who like using SFTP can now have SFTP access so they can make these changes directly. Check out our step-by-step guide to get started.

Database Access:

At WordPress.com, we regularly optimize your database so you don’t have to, but there might still be times when you need an efficient way to modify data, like purging all the tables created by a plugin you’ve decided to delete. Accessing your site’s database is an effective way to do this. 

Database access is a powerful tool, so if you’re at all unsure about working with a database, reach out to our Happiness Engineers! If you’re unfamiliar with databases, you can also find information on getting started in our help documentation.

PHP version switching:

PHP is still one of the key languages used to build the web, and a new version, PHP 7.4, was recently released. WordPress.com sites currently run PHP 7.3, which has been tested extensively across all of WordPress.com, but sites on Business or eCommerce plans can switch to version 7.4 immediately. Learn more.

Since these new tools let you dig into some of the code and data the powers your site, you’ll find a link for our support team right from the dashboard so you can get help if you need it. Have fun getting under the hood, power users!

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How to Download Videos with VLC YouTube included.

Written by: Karen Nelson

Date: October 11, 2019

It is likely that you have heard and used VLC media player for playing streaming videos. But it is more likely that you are fooled by its name VLC media player is by no means a one-trick pony. Instead, it is a feature packed powerful tool which is not only capable of playing streaming videos but also able to download videos from all the popular websites, like YouTube.

Today, you are going to learn about how to download video with VLC on Mac/Windows and solve a series of problems involved when using it all in one passage.

VLC’s hidden feature download video from Internet:

In fact, there are two methods to download videos with VLC. Here I will introduce the easier one. Please follow the steps below with VLC downloading a YouTube video as an example.

Step 1. Fire up VLC

After installing VLC media player to your Windows or Mac, fire it up.

Step 2. Copy the Video URL from YouTube

Go for the video on YouTube and copy the link from the browser’s address bar above the page.

Step 3. Paste the Video URL into VLC and Start Playing

On Windows:

Click on “Media” > “Open Network Stream” in VLC main interface.

VLC Open Network Stream to Download YouTube

Then under the Network tab on the pop-up window, you should then enter the YouTube video URL that you have copied from YouTube. Press the “Play” button to start playing the video.

VLC Enter YouTube Video URL

On Mac:

Click on “File” > “Open Network”, enter the YouTube video URL and click “Open”.

Step 4. Get and Copy Codec Information of the YouTube Video

On Windows:

Hit “Tools” > “Codec Information” to copy the full URL besides the “Location” title. This is the direct URL of the YouTube video.

Copy VLC Codec Information

On Mac:

Select the YouTube video in VLC, hit “Window” > “Media Information”. You are looking for the “Location” input box.

Step 5. Enter the URL into Address Bar and Download the YouTube Video

Open a web browser page and paste the copied Location URL into the address bar before hitting “Enter” on your keyboard. More clicks of “Save” button might be needed after that, which depends on the video link and the setting of your browser.

Problems tackled in YouTube downloading using VLC:

Now, have you learned about how to download YouTube videos using VLC yet? Don’t worry if you encounter some problems when in practice. The first thing you need to do is to repeat the above steps more carefully in order to rule out the possibility of not following the right procedures. If that problem does continue to exist, you might need to read the second part of the passage. We have listed some common problems involved in saving video from websites with VLC and given out our solutions.

Problem 1:

“Sadly this didn’t work for me. It downloaded the video but instead of getting a playable video I get a file called “file” in my download folder.”

Solution A: Put an extension to the file name when it gives you “Enter file name”, like “.mp4” or “.avi”.

Solution B: Use a video converter to convert the file into “.mp4”.

Problem 2:

“I could download some YouTube videos with VLC while others didn’t work.”

Solution: Check if the video is tagged “Age-restricted video (based on Community Guidelines)”. If that is the case, the video will NOT download using the established method due to YouTube policies. There is no way of getting rid of it. So try VLC alternatives.

An alternative to VLC for downloading web video including YouTube:

The built-in download feature of VLC cannot go without drawbacks since it is not an expert in video download. Indeed, some videos are highly protected by their website program and prevented from grabbing by VLC. To solve such a problem, I suggest you to try some online tools to download videos from popular websites for offline viewing.

VideoSolo Online Video Downloader is one of the best free online downloaders on the internet for grabbing YouTube videos. Aside from YouTube, it claims to support Facebook, Instagram, Dailymotion, Vimeo, SoundCloud, etc. in almost all browsers and all operating systems including Mac/Windows/Android/iOS. With a clean and intuitive interface, VideoSolo Online Video Downloader is very easy to use within just several clicks.

In addition, VideoSolo now released a video downloader for Mac users which can also download Pornhub videos easily. But the Windows version is in the development.

You can take a try with it from the button below.

Download

Follow the 3 steps to grab videos from the Internet easily with VideoSolo Online Video Downloader.

Step 1. Go to the page containing your loved video and copy the video link from the address bar above.

Step 2. Head to the VideoSolo Online Video Downloader homepage and paste the video link into the search box. Press the “Download” button to the right of the box to interpret the video.

Paste Video Link

Step 3. After deciding on the output format and quality, hit the corresponding “Download” button to the right hand. Then the browser immediately pops up a download dialog; if not, click the menu button > “Download” on the pop-up window, or right-click the mouse and select “Save as”.

Download YouTube Video

Hope the above information can settle your problems when downloading videos with VLC on your Mac or Windows. If you are not so satisfied with VLC’s inherent download function, your best bet is to try VideoSolo Online Video Downloader, which is quite easy and efficient to use.

Karen Nelson is a editorial director of VideoSolo, who writes high-quality product tutorials, reviews, tips and tricks regularly.

Source: https://www.videosolo.com/tutorials/download-video-with-vlc.html

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WordPress 5.3.1 Security and Maintenance Release.

Date: December 13, 2019

Written by: Jb Audras

WordPress 5.3.1 is now available!

This security and maintenance release features 46 fixes and enhancements. Plus, it adds a number of security fixes—see the list below.

WordPress 5.3.1 is a short-cycle maintenance release. The next major release will be version 5.4.

You can download WordPress 5.3.1 by clicking the button at the top of this page, or visit your Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now.

If you have sites that support automatic background updates, they’ve already started the update process.

Security updates:

Four security issues affect WordPress versions 5.3 and earlier; version 5.3.1 fixes them, so you’ll want to upgrade. If you haven’t yet updated to 5.3, there are also updated versions of 5.2 and earlier that fix the security issues.

  • Props to Daniel Bachhuber for finding an issue where an unprivileged user could make a post sticky via the REST API.
  • Props to Simon Scannell of RIPS Technologies for finding and disclosing an issue where cross-site scripting (XSS) could be stored in well-crafted links.
  • Props to the WordPress.org Security Team for hardening wp_kses_bad_protocol() to ensure that it is aware of the named colon attribute.
  • Props to Nguyen The Duc for discovering a stored XSS vulnerability using block editor content.

Maintenance updates:

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Administration: improvements to admin form controls height and alignment standardization (see related dev note), dashboard widget links accessibility and alternate color scheme readability issues (see related dev note).
  • Block editor: fix Edge scrolling issues and intermittent JavaScript issues.
  • Bundled themes: add customizer option to show/hide author bio, replace JS based smooth scroll with CSS (see related dev note) and fix Instagram embed CSS.
  • Date/time: improve non-GMT dates calculation, fix date format output in specific languages and make get_permalink() more resilient against PHP timezone changes.
  • Embeds: remove CollegeHumor oEmbed provider as the service doesn’t exist anymore.
  • External libraries: update sodium_compat.
  • Site health: allow the remind interval for the admin email verification to be filtered.
  • Uploads: avoid thumbnails overwriting other uploads when filename matches, and exclude PNG images from scaling after upload.
  • Users: ensure administration email verification uses the user’s locale instead of the site locale.

For more information, browse the full list of changes on Trac or check out the version 5.3.1 HelpHub documentation page.

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New WordPress Theme: Twenty Twenty.

Meet Twenty Twenty, the brand new WordPress default theme.

Date: December 10, 2019

Written by: Danny Dudzic

We’re pleased to announce that Twenty Twenty — the new WordPress default theme designed by Anders Norén— is available to all WordPress.com sites.

Twenty Twenty was designed with the flexibility of the new WordPress Editor at its core. If you want to use it for an organization or a business, you can combine columns, groups, and media to create dynamic layouts that show off your services or products. If you want to use it for a traditional blog, the centered content column and considered typography makes it perfect for that as well.

It also has been designed and developed to take maximum advantage of the creative freedom enabled by the block editor. Extra care has been given to the Columns and Group blocks, which can be combined into impressive landing pages with intricate blocks layouts. Twenty Twenty includes full editor styles for the block editor, so what you see in the editor will almost exactly match the end result.

Learn more about WordPress’s latest default theme here, or check out the demo site.

Source: https://en.blog.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/twenty-twenty

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The Month in WordPress: November 2019.

Date: December 2, 2019

Written by: Hugh Lashbrooke

November has been a big month in the WordPress community. New releases, big events, and a push for more contributors have characterized the work being done across the project — read on to find out more!

The Release of WordPress 5.3 Kirk:

WordPress 5.3 was released on November 12, and is available for download or update in your dashboard! Named “Kirk,” after jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, 5.3 enhances the block editor with new APIs and theme-related features, adds more intuitive interactions, and improves accessibility in a number of areas — including CSS in the dashboard, the media managercore widgets, and dozens of other areas.

You can read the full details of all the included enhancements in the 5.3 Field Guide.

Along with 5.3 came the new Twenty Twenty theme, which gives users more design flexibility and integrates with the block editor. For more information about the improvements to the block editor, expanded design flexibility, the Twenty Twenty theme, and to see the huge list of amazing contributors who made this release possible, read the full announcement.

Want to get involved in building WordPress Core? Follow the Core team blog and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group. You can also provide feedback on the 5.3 release process.

At Last bbPress 2.6:

bbPress 2.6 was released on November 12 after a little over six years in development. This new release includes per-forum moderation, new platforms to import from, and an extensible engagements API. You can read more about all of this in the bbPress codex.

Version 2.6.1 and 2.6.2 quickly followed, both of which fixed a number of bugs that required immediate attention.

Want to get involved in building bbPress? Follow the bbPress blog and join the #bbpress channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

State of the Word:

WordCamp US 2019 was held in St. Louis, MO this year on November 1-3. At the event, @matt gave his annual State of the Word address, during which he shared what had been accomplished in the past year, announced what is coming next, and shared several ways to get involved.

You can watch the State of the Word as well as the Q&A session at the end, and read Matt’s recap of the address. If you didn’t make it to St. Louis, you can still watch all the sessions at your leisure.

Five for the Future:

During the State of the Word, Matt announced that there is now a dedicated landing page for Five for the Future, which features the people and organizations that commit at least it 5% of their resources to the WordPress open source project. There are many ways to contribute to WordPress, such as core development, marketing, translation, training, and community organizing, among many other important paths to contribution.

Five for the Future welcomes individuals and organizations, and highlights all the incredible ways we build WordPress together. For more information, visit the Five for the Future page.

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People of WordPress: Jill Binder.

Written by: Josepha

Date: December 6, 2019

You’ve probably heard that WordPress is open-source software, and may know that it’s created and run by volunteers. WordPress enthusiasts share many examples of how WordPress changed people’s lives for the better. This monthly series shares some of those lesser-known, amazing stories.

Meet Jill Binder:

Jill Binder never meant to become an activist. She insists it was an accident.

Despite that, Jill has led the Diversity Outreach Speaker Training working group in the WordPress Community team since 2017. This group is dedicated to increasing the number of women and other underrepresented groups who are stepping up to become speakers at WordPress Meetups, WordCamps, and events. 

Jill’s back story:

Internship:

Jill’s WordPress story begins in 2011, in Vancouver, Canada. Jill secured an internship for her college program, working on a higher education website that was built in WordPress. As a thank you, her practicum advisor bought Jill a ticket to WordCamp Vancouver 2011: Developer’s Edition. After that Jill began freelancing  with WordPress as a Solopreneur. 

First steps in the WordPress community:

The following year her internship advisor, who had become a client, was creating the first ever BuddyCamp for BuddyPress. He asked Jill to be on his organizing team. At that event she also moderated a panel with Matt Mullenweg. Then, Jill was invited to be on the core organizing team for WordCamp Vancouver.

Part of this role meant reviewing and selecting speakers. From 40 speaker applications the team had to pick only 14 to speak.

The diversity challenge when selecting speakers.

For anyone who has organized a conference, you know that speaker selection is hard. Of the 40 applications, 7 were from women, and the lead organizer selected 6 of those to be included in the speaker line up.

At this point Jill wasn’t aware that very few women apply to speak at tech conferences and suggested selection should be made on the best fit for the conference. The team shared that not only did they feel the pitches were good and fit the conference, but they also needed to be accepted or the Organizers would be criticized for a lack of diversity.

Selecting women for fear of criticism is embarrassing to admit, but that’s how people felt in 2013.

By the time the event happened, though, the number of women speakers dropped to 4. And with an additional track being added, the number of speakers overall was up to 28. Only 1 speaker in 7 was a woman (or 14%) and attendees did ask questions and even blogged about the lack of representation.

What keeps women from applying?

Later that year at  WordCamp San Francisco—the biggest WordCamp at the time (before there was a WordCamp US)—Jill took the opportunity to chat with other organizers about her experience. She found out that many organizers had trouble getting enough women to present.

Surprisingly Vancouver had a high number of women applicants in comparison to others, and the consensus was more would be accepted  if only more would apply.

Jill decided that she  needed to know why this was happening? Why weren’t there more women applying? She started researching, reading, and talking to people.

Though this issue is complex, two things came up over and over:

  • “What would I talk about?”
  • “I’m not an expert on anything. I don’t know enough about anything to give a talk on it.”

A first workshop with encouraging results.

Then Jill had an idea. She brought up the issue at an event and someone suggested that they should get women together in a room and brainstorm speaker topics.

So Jill became the lead of a small group creating a workshop in Vancouver. In one of the exercises, participants were invited to brainstorm ideas—this proved that they had literally a hundred topic ideas and the biggest problem then became picking just one!

In the first discussion, Jill focussed on:

  • Why it matters that women (added later: diverse groups) are in the front of the room
  • The myths of what it takes to be the speaker at the front of the room (aka beating impostor syndrome)
  • Different presentation formats, especially story-telling
  • Finding and refining a topic
  • Tips to become a better speaker
  • Leveling up by speaking in front of the group throughout the afternoon
women gathering to discussion presentation topics
Vancouver Workshop 2014

Leading to workshops across North America and then the world.

Other cities across North America heard about the workshop and started hosting them, adding their own material.

Many women who initially joined her workshop wanted help getting even better at public speaking. So Jill’s team (Vanessa Chu, Kate Moore Hermes, and Mandi Wise) added in some material created from the other cities and a bit more of their own. Such as:

  • Coming up with a great title
  • Writing a pitch that is more likely to get accepted
  • Writing a bio
  • Creating an outline

At WordCamp Vancouver 2014—only one year since Jill started—there were 50% women speakers and 3 times the number of women applicants! Not only that, but this WordCamp was a Developer’s Edition, where it’s more challenging to find women developers in general, let alone those who will step up to speak.

More work is needed!

Impressive as those results were, the reason Jill is so passionate about this work is because of what happened next:

  • Some of the women who attended the workshop stepped up to be leaders in the community and created new content for other women.
  • A handful of others became WordCamp organizers. One year Vancouver had an almost all-female organizing team – 5 out of 6!
  • It also influenced local businesses. One local business owner loved what one of the women speakers said so much that he hired her immediately. She was the first woman developer on the team, and soon after she became the Senior Developer.

Diversity touches on many levels.

Jill has seen time and again what happens when different people speak at the front of the room. More people feel welcome in the community. The speakers and the new community members bring new ideas and new passions that help to make the technology we are creating more inclusive. And together we generate new ideas that benefit everyone.

This workshop was so successful, with typical results of 40-60% women speakers at WordCamps, that the WordPress Global Community Team asked Jill to promote it and train it for women and all diverse groups around the world. In late 2017, Jill started leading the Diverse Speaker Training group (#wpdiversity).

Dozens of community members across the world have now been trained to lead the workshop. With now dozens of workshops worldwide, for WordPress and other open source software projects as well, there is an increase in speaker diversity. 

Diverse Speaker Training group
WordCamp US 2019

As a result of the success, Jill is now sponsored to continue the program. She’s proud of how the diversity represented on the stage adds value not only to the brand but also in the long-term will lead to the creation of a better product. She’s inspired by seeing the communities change as a result of the new voices and new ideas at the WordPress events.

Written by: Josepha

Source: https://wordpress.org/news

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What Are The Best TV Brands?

It May Be Time to Reevaluate Your Brand Loyalty

Credit:

Written by: Lee Neikirk

Date: December 3, 2019

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The history of dominant brands in the TV marketplace is a long and fascinating one. After World War II, Japan ramped up nationwide efforts to secure dominance in many consumer electronics markets, the end result being that by the latter half of the 1990s, Japanese brands like Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba were dominant in the marketplace.

If you’re a little older, you may remember a time when fledgling TV brands Samsung and Lucky Goldstar—er, LG—were first crowding onto the shelves, and the consensus was that the LED TVs coming out of South Korea were of lesser quality than their Japanese counterparts.

However, those days are way behind us: Samsung and LG are beloved TV brands in the states, Panasonic has exited the US market entirely, and Chinese brands are gaining footing, especially in value brackets. If you’re still laboring under the idea that it’s Sony or nothing, it might be time to update your notions about TV brands, especially if you want to get your hands on the very best TVs.

We should note the list below is not in order of quality—we let our reviews and roundups do the talking there.

TV-brands-SAMSUNG
Samsung Incredibly Popular Still, With Beautiful High Quality TVs

Samsung has been the leader in the TV market for a long time now, owning the top market position year after year. Samsung may not always offer the best TV on the market—our reviews typically favor OLED models, which Samsung does not make anymore—but across the board its thin, sleek TVs have proven incredibly popular with consumers.

As it stands, Samsung’s premium UHD LED TVs—now dubbed ‘QLED’ by Samsung—have struggled to beat out competing OLED models for several years, but overall the company’s TVs are still some of the best on the market. Samsung TVs are typically well-designed, with a slew of high-end features and excellent build quality.

You are definitely paying (a little) more for the Samsung name–especially early in the year before prices drop—but you can also expect to get a high-quality TV even if you’re not spending a ton.

Sony: Name recognition and phenomenal picture quality.

TV-brands-SONY
Sony Name Recognition and Phenomenal Picture Quality

Sony is not quite the dominant player in the US market that it once was. The company even spun off its TV division (“BRAVIA,” which stands for Best Resolution Audio Video Integrated Architecture), something it also did for its struggling VAIO laptop business.

However, in 2019, Sony seems poised for a comeback, hitting the US market with a long list of 4K and HDR TVs, including a couple of ultra-premium OLED models. While Sony TVs tend to be a little pricier than certain competitors, they also tend to be high quality TVs that look great right out of the box.

Of course, no matter the brand, not every TV is going to be a winner even if the brand’s output is usually reliable—that’s what TV reviews are for. But generally, Sony’s high-end 4K and OLED TVs are beautiful to behold.

LG: OLED TVs are superior, but prices are still fairly high.

TV-brands-LG
LG OLED TVs are Superior, But Prices Are Still Fairly High

LG’s OLED TVs have widely been considered to be the best TVs in the market for around five years now. OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology operates in a fundamentally different way than traditional LED/LCD tech, and at this point we can all agree that it’s better—especially in a dark room.

However, LG’s top 2019 OLED TVs—from the “affordable” C9 OLED TV up through the extravagant W9 “wallpaper” OLED—don’t come cheap. Even the cheapest, on sale, refurb’d 55-inch OLED TVs still retail around $1,300. They look great, but that’s a ton of money for most people.

Outside of LG’s OLEDs, we typically aren’t overly impressed with the company’s IPS panel-equipped LED TVs. They aren’t bad at all, but they don’t sweep the top spot in brackets and categories the way that the company’s OLEDs do. Even still, LG continues to be one of the best brands for its OLED TVs alone.

Vizio: Still makes some of the best TVs for the money.

TV-brands-VIZIO
Vizio Still Makes Some of The Best TVs For The Money

It used to be Vizio TVs were known for giving you the best picture quality at the lowest price possible. You’d get one at Walmart or Costco, and it looked like every corner had been cut except maybe the raw picture quality. But if you wanted a massive 70-inch TV for thousands less than the competition, Vizio was the way to go.

Nowadays, not only does Vizio still produce TVs that punch well above their weight, but Vizio competes pretty handily in the premium sphere, too. Take last year’s P-Series Quantum: a 65-inch 4K/HDR smart TV with quantum dots that started at just $2,200 and is now available for around $1,500. It was up there in quality with some of the best Samsung “QLED” TVs and even LG’s OLED TVs.

This year, we’re expecting a lot of great 2019 TVs from Vizio, including a new “V” Series which ostensibly serves as Vizio’s entry-level series. While some Vizio TVs aim a little too low for our tastes, the middle- and upper-tier models (M-Series, P Series) are quality picks year after year.

TCL: A newer player with some fantastic sub $1,000 TVs.

TV-brands-TCL
TCL A Newer Player With Some Fantastic Sub $1,000 TVs

If you haven’t heard of TCL, you’re in for a surprise. There’s a lot of “I’ve never heard of that brand” brands in the TV market you should usually avoid. Players like Element, SuperSonic, and even better known brands like Westinghouse, Insignia, and Dynex may be on your radar, but in our experience they’re generally unreliable in everyday circumstances.

China’s TCL is the exception. For the last couple of years, the brand has swept the “high value” categories of most sites, releasing consistently
excellent 4K/HDR Roku TVs that even AV geeks and cinephiles have been very excited about.

We haven’t seen the 2019 version yet, but the 2018 TCL 6 Series TVs were some of our favorites for good reason: you could get a 55-inch 4K/HDR smart TV for $600, and it was really darn good. That’s the dream, folks, and it’s something TCL has been making a reality.

If value is your game, take a look at the TCL TVs next time you’re thinking of upgrading.

Hisense: A massive worldwide force just cracking the US market.

TV-brands-HISENSE
Hisense A Massive Worldwide Force Just Cracking the US Market

Last but definitely not least, Hisense TVs have come a long way in the last few years, with the company owning significant marketshare worldwide and in markets like Australia. While the company has struggled to get a clean foothold in the US market, generally Hisense TVs (which include Sharp-branded sets in the states) are good, quality TVs.

The main issue with Hisense has been availability. We’ve tested some excellent high-end Hisense TVs only for them to be stuck “backordered” for months on end. That does seem to be getting better, but it pays to do your research to make sure the Hisense model you’re about to buy is actually worth it.

On the lower end of things, Hisense TVs tend to be more readily available and frequently compete with the best TVs around $500. The company’s Roku TVs (and especially its 8 Series from the last couple years) have been strong value picks, and are definitely worth considering.

Written by: Lee Neikirk

Source: https://www.techradar.com

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It Looks Like Nokia is About to Launch a Smart TV

Written by: Maggie Tillman

Date: 6 December 2019

It looks like Nokia is about to launch a smart TV
It’s 4K and runs an Android-based OS

Nokia is no stranger to licensing its name to third parties, and the latest example comes in the form of a smart TV – a first for the Nokia brand.

Gadgets 360 recently noticed Flipkart, a massive e-commerce retailer in India, is using the Nokia brand on a TV. Described as a “global first for the brand in the TV category” by Flipkart, the new “Nokia Ultra HD 4K LED Smart Android TV” is a 55-inch set with two 24-watt speakers and a sound system from JBL by Harman. To be clear, the TV runs an Android-based operating system, but it might not be Android TV, specifically.

Other features include a 16:9 display with a 60Hz refresh rate, support for Dolby Vision and HDR10, three HDMI ports, two USB ports, a quad-core processor, 2.25GB of RAM, 16GB of ROM, and support for Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi. So, it’s decently specc’d for a budget television.

Flipkart image 2
Nokia Ultra HD 4K LED Smart Android TV

Flipkart is quoted saying it wants to help make Nokia-branded smart TVs accessible and affordable. As a result, its Nokia-branded TV will launch on 10 December for 41,999 Indian rupees about $589 in the US or £448 in the UK. There’s no indication it will launch internationally, however.

Written by: Maggie Tillman

Source: Flipkart

Via: Gadgets 360

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